Friday 30 July 2004 London - When you’ve won as much, and done as much,
as Haile Gebrselassie, it must be the most daunting of prospects to know, at
31, that you still have the greatest challenge of your athletics life ahead of
you. But that’s what faces the legend from Ethiopia as he prepares to
defend his Olympic 10,000m title in Athens in three weeks time.
“There is no question it would be my greatest
achievement,” said Gebrselassie, speaking in London as he
prepares to race over 5000m at the Norwich Union London Grand Prix on Friday
night. “Everyone wants to win an Olympic gold, and for me it would be the
third time. If I won again it would be wonderful, something very special. But
it’s not easy, there’s a lot of pressure.”
Gebrselassie’s name is already up there alongside that of
Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek and Lasse Viren – the only other men who have
won two Olympic 10,000m titles – and he knows a third gold would
seal his greatness for all time. He knows too, however, that he is no longer
the dominant force in distance running he once was and it will take a
superhuman effort to repeat his heroics from the last two Olympic
Since his dramatic victory over Paul Tergat on that magic Monday night in
Sydney four years ago, Gebrselassie has lost the world title he had held since
1993 and, this year, has seen both his 5000m and 10,000m world records snatched
from his grasp by the man predicted to take his Olympic crown.
The Greatest ever
Few would have questioned ...