Friday, August 29, 2014

It's top secret: Haile Gebrselassie on Mr Bean, his lucky pants and historical epics

Who is your sporting hero?
Miruts Yifter. He was a fellow Ethiopian and he won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the Moscow Olympics. I started to get into athletics because of this guy.
What would you be if you weren’t a sportsman?
I used to enjoy doing creative things. I liked painting, carpentry, things like that. Maybe I would have been an artist.
Which other sportsman would you like to be?
Good question! I used to like watching soccer and Diego Maradona was the best when I started watching.

Career highlight?
It would be the Sydney Olympics in 2000. I was defending my title and it was a great race with Paul Tergat. We were close together on the line!
...And the worst moment?
The London Marathon in 2007 when I dropped out. I really wanted to win but had to stop.
If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save?
My family, of course. As long as my wife, my three daughters and my son were safe that would be enough.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My father always used to say: ‘Never give up.’ I always tried to follow that and it definitely helped during my races!
Favourite karaoke song?
I quite like dance songs and I’ve always liked Scatman by Scatman John. I don’t mind a bit of singing but I don’t know about that for karaoke! It was always good to run to.
Last film you saw?
I don’t know about the last one but I enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean films. I also like old-fashioned historical films, particularly the epics like Ben Hur and Spartacus.
Favourite pre-race meal?
I used to enjoy spaghetti or any pasta.
Can you cook? Best dish?
I’m quite good. My favourites are lasagne and pasta dishes. I like Italian food.
Which three famous people would you invite to dinner?
I would ask Bob Geldof — I like his music — and I don’t know if he’d accept my invitation, but I’d ask Barack Obama. The final one would be Mr Bean (right), he’s a great comedian and it would be a good dinner!
Your favourite holiday destination?
I like going on safari holidays and enjoyed visiting Kruger Park in South Africa. I loved watching the lions and elephants.
In a film of your life, who would you like to play you?
I would say Mr Bean again! He wouldn’t have to run the whole marathon, he’d only have to pretend.
Tell us a secret...
I have a pair of lucky underpants that I like to wear when I’m racing. I’ve had the same pair for about 10 years!