Saturday, August 11, 2012

Haile Gebrselassie mulling farewell

LONDON -- Haile Gebrselassie is trying to figure out how to leave the sport he once dominated.

The 39-year-old long-distance great from Ethiopia hoped for a farewell race and one last shot at an Olympic gold medal in the London Games marathon, but he didn't make his country's team.

The former world-record holder says he is unlikely to run the marathon at next year's world championships. He says he'll have to rethink how and when he bows out.

"If possible, this (the Olympics) was the plan," he said Friday. "The next world championships, I don't think so. Maybe something else."

Gebrselassie broke his own marathon world record in 2008 at 35 and won two Olympic golds and four world titles in the 10,000 meters. He also set over 20 world records and countless Ethiopian records, and ran successfully in distances ranging from 1,500 meters to the 26.2-mile marathon.

Gebrselassie also failed to qualify for the 10,000 in London, but he joked with reporters that he was still hoping to be a late addition to the marathon field.

He'll watch the race Sunday, he said, but was disappointed the runners won't finish in the Olympic Stadium. Organizers decided the marathon will end on the Mall in central London and near Buckingham Palace.

"For me, if it's possible to finish in the stadium, imagine," he said. "This is the best crowd I've ever seen in my life in athletics. If the marathon finishes in the stadium, ask the people."

Gebrselassie said the marathon was still an iconic event for the Olympics and, "If we talk about Olympics, we have to talk about marathon."