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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Saturday, Oct 18, 2014

Sports

The Emperor is on his way

The New Paper | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Saturday, Oct 18, 2014

Haile Gebrselassie, widely regarded as the greatest long-distance runner in the history of athletics, will compete alongside at least 13,000 others in the 10km category in Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. The Ethiopian will be making his first trip to Singapore and this will be his first race in South-east Asia.

Running royalty will set foot in the Lion City ahead of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore on Dec 7.

"The Emperor", Haile Gebrselassie, widely regarded as the greatest long-distance runner in the history of athletics, will compete alongside at least 13,000 others in the 10km category of the event.

The 41-year-old Ethiopian will be making his first trip to Singapore and this will be his first race in South-east Asia.

Even at his age, and with critics wondering if he should call it a day in competitive running, Gebrselassie is constantly on the lookout for new challenges.

In a teleconference with local media yesterday, the two-time Olympic champion said: "A day without running is not a day.

"My body needs running, I enjoy it, and competing is just an aspect of it.

"A lot of people have actually been asking about my retirement but, at the moment, I am going to keep running as a competitor.

"I don't know when or how long in the future I will do it for, but I am not worried about and do not fear the day I have to retire.

"I will stop running competitively, but I won't stop running."

Beside his two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2000 Games, both in the 10,000m), Gebrselassie has won four World Championship 10km titles and, as recently as 2008, bettered the marathon world best with his 2:03:59 in Berlin.

The current best is 2:02:57, set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto on Sept 28, also in Berlin.

While he is in town, he will also engage local runners in a number of training clinics, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Said Gebrselassie: "Everyone I've spoken with has told me the Standard Chartered Marathon is one of the great events in Asia and I'm delighted to have chosen this race as my first running event in that part of the world.

COUP

"I'm looking forward to racing the 10km, but I am equally excited by the opportunity to help out the local running community with the various training runs and clinics I plan to host.

"I've been told there is a vibrant running scene in Singapore and I can't wait to experience it for myself."

Chris Robb, managing director of race organisers Spectrum Worldwide, said: "Haile Gebrselassie is arguably the greatest long-distance runner in modern history, so to have him grace the marathon is an absolute coup not only for the event, but also for everyone in the local running community."

Sport Singapore's strategic development and marketing chief, Toh Boon Yi, added: "Running alongside an Olympic gold medallist and world champion will certainly excite and encourage the runners to push themselves and go the extra mile.

"For competitive runners, it will be a great opportunity to be able to engage and learn from a legend in the sport such as Haile."

msazali@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 16, 2014.
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