The great distance runner Haile Gebrselassie has called on London 2012 officials to consider the needs of marathon runners and bring forward the start time of the race at next year’s Olympic Games.
“Nine in the morning is better for my routine,” he told Telegraph Sport.
“It is a television thing, but the organisers should do something. If I had a chance to chat to the organisers I would tell them to revise the time of the race because to run 42km is not easy.
“Athletes around the world train in the early morning, when we wake up we train and it should be that at the London Olympics we wake up and compete. Eleven am is not good.”
There has already been controversy over the London marathon route starting and finishing at The Mall, just outside Buckingham Palace, rather than at the Olympic stadium in Stratford.
Gebrselassie said the route was not a problem. “I just don’t like the start time of the race,” he added.
Gebrselassie still has to qualify for the Olympic marathon after withdrawing from last weekend’s Berlin race because he was suffering from the effects of asthma. He encountered breathing problems after 17 miles and withdrew five miles later.
Up until he was struck down, he had been driving the pace and the eventual winner, Kenya’s Patrick Makau, set a world record of 2hr 03min 38sec.
Gebrselassie knows he has to run a time of around 2-04 to qualify for London simply because of the strength in depth of distance running in Ethiopia. He hopes to achieve the mark at the Dubai marathon in January and once he has competed at the London Games, says he will return to the track.
Gebrselassie said he feels capable of running under 27 minutes for the 10,000 metres. Britain’s Mo Farah, who won a silver medal over that distance at the recent world championships, has run 26-46.57.
Talk of retirement, Gebrselassie insists, is premature, even though he announced at the New York marathon last November that he had finished with running.
“Sometimes you are out of control,” he said, adding that he had spoken in the heat of the moment because he wanted to return to his hotel rather than go to the finish line and speak to the media.
“That was the first time I had that kind of emotion, it was the first time I really thought about retirement.”
But he took advice from his friends, family and advisers and decided to continue competing, saying that “sport is addictive” – a message he passes on to 14 disadvantaged athletes around the world who are backed by his sponsor G4S.
“I talk to them and share my experiences and they laugh at my childhood,” he said. “I ran barefoot until the eighth grade, that is 14 years-old and when I first ran in shoes if felt strange, they made me [feel] heavy.
"They [G4S athletes] are very young, now, comparatively, they have everything.”