POSTED: November 8th 2010

Coe tribute after Gebrselassie retirement ends a London 2012 dream

Haile Gebreselassie: two dozen world records
Haile Gebreselassie: two dozen world records

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

NEW YORK/LONDON, Nov 08: Haile Gebrselassie will not, after all, be fulfilling his ambition of running the marathon at the London Olympic Games of 2012. The Ethiopian has retired at 37 after pulling out of the New York Marathon, at the 16-mile mark - two years after setting the world record of 2hr 3min 59sec in Berlin.

He said: “I never thought about retirement. But for the first time, this is the day. Let me do another job. Let me give a chance to the youngsters. I did very hard work to win this race, it didn't work."

‘Gebre’ made headlines initially in the world junior championships all the way back in 1992 when he won the 5,000m/10,000m double. A year later he became world 10,000m champion, a title he retained in 1995, 1997 and 1999.

In 1996, at the Olympics in Atlanta, he won gold and repeated the feat in Sydney in 2000. He also set 26 world records, having quit the track to concentrate on the marathon after finishing fifth in the 2004 Athens Olympics 10,000m final.

LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe, who also won two Olympic golds, said: "We will wait a long time before an athlete dominates over so many distances and across such an extraordinary time period as Haile Gebrselassie has done.

"The litmus test for a successful athlete is longevity at the very highest level and he had that in abundance. There is nothing he couldn't do - and he did it with style. I believe he is the greatest athlete of the last 50 years and arguably the best of all time."

Keywords · Gebreselassie · Coe · marathon · London 2012

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