Haile Gebrselassie – Greatest Long Distance Runner
Haile Gebrselassie is considered the greatest long distance runner, winning 2 Olympic medals and four World Championships in 10,000 meters race, four indoor world titles on various distances and had set 27 world records.
Haile Gebrselassie was inspired by the achievements of his fellow countryman: Abebe Bikila. Little Haile had to 10 km each day in order to go to school. The first notable performance of the best long distance runner was when he finished his first marathon in 2:42 at the age 16.
The greatest long distance runner of all time was first remarked in 1992, when he managed to 5000 m and 10000 m races in World Junior Championships. Haile Gebrselassie‘s win against Moses Tanui in 10ooo m World Championship final is still considered a very controversial one because the best long distance runner stepped on Tanui’s shoe, causing it to fly off and the Ethiopian won on the last 15 meters.
Haile set his first world record in 5000 m race in 1994, after he managed to finish the race in 12:56.96 minutes, lowering a 6 years old record with two seconds. The Ethiopian set a new record in 1995 – 12:44.39, improving the 5000 m world record with 10.91 seconds. This world record set at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich was declared the “Performance of the Year” by Track&Field Magazine
. Also in 1995, the greatest long distance runner of all time set a new world in 10000-meters race, 26:43.53, breaking the previous record with nine seconds. Haile Gebrselassie
had perfect 1995 year: breaking in total 5 world records. Besides those presented, Haile managed to broke the 2 miles world record (8:07.46), indoor 5000-meters race (13:10.98) and 3000 meters race (7:30.72).
The following year, Haile prepared intensively for Olympics. The Ethiopian managed to win the gold medal in 10000 m race and set a new Olympic record: 27:07.34. Haile Gebrselassie proved during this race that is not only a very good runner, but also brilliant tactician by following all the race Paul Tergat. In the final lap, Haile unleashed a sprint that shattered the Olympic record. However, the little Ethiopian had a lot of blisters from the the hard surface of the racing track in Atlanta and could not enter in the 5000 m Olympic event.
The greatest distance runner ever proved his versatility and the fact that it is a complete athlete that can go beyond any limit of endurance and speed in 1997. Haile set a new world record in 1500m by crossing the finish line after 3:32.39. He broke another record in indoor 5000 m race, clocking 12:59.04. The Ethiopian set a new record in 2 mile race, ending up the race in 8:01.08. Also, he set a new world record in 10000 m, clocking 26:31.32. Haile broke the world record in 5000 m race with a time of 12:41.86, after a superb fight against Daniel Komen.
The best long distance runner was set to brake all records between 1998 and 2000. The Ethiopian improved world records in indoor 2000 m and 3000 m race, 5000 (12:39.36) and 10000 m races (26:22.75). Haile was undefeated in 5000 meters and 10000 meters races in 1998. He repeated this performance in 1999, when he managed to win all races that ranged from 1500 m up to 10000 m.
Haile Gebrselassie remained undefeated in 2000 too. He won another gold medal in 10000 m Olympic race, being the the third man to defend such a title (after Emil Zatopek and Lasse Viren). The race was splendid, Haile managing to outrun Tergat with only 0.09 seconds, after an incredible 200 meters dash (in only 25.4 seconds).
After Sidney Olympics, the greatest distance runner decided he needed a new challenge and started to focus on longer distances, aiming for a marathon world record. He won IAAF World Half Marathon in 2001. Haile started to be overshadowed by his protege Kenenisa Bekele, who was winning everything in 5000 meters and 10000 meters races. As a result, the small Ethiopian moved to road racing.
Haile Gebrselassie won different marathon and establishing personal bests of the year in this event. He set a new half marathon record, 58 minutes and 55 seconds in 2006, and shattering the 20 km mark world record (55 minutes and 48 seconds). The Ethiopian set an unofficial 25 km world record clocking 1:11:37. Haile won 4 consecutive Berlin Marathons and 3 Dubai Marathons. The greatest long distance runner set a new marathon world record in 2008, at the age of 35: 2:03:59. Being over 35, his time remain Masters Age group marathon world record.
This is the story of Haile Gebrselassie – the greatest long distance runner of all time! The Ethiopian definitely show that nothing is impossible, winning any kind of race from 800 meters to a marathon. He set 27 world records and showed to the entire world that there is a complete athlete, one can outperform anyone in any track event, road running or cross-country running race.