Newsarchiv Geb Facing his Greatest Challenge

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.”

No kidding.

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 ...