Haile Gebrselassie, 2009 real, Berlin, photo by PhotoRun.net.
Haile Gebrselassie, two time Olympic 10,000 m gold medalist, four-time World Champion at 10,000 meters, 27 time world record holder, has announced his retirement today, in the ING NYCM press conference held just after the marathon.
In tears, Haile took one question, and confirmed that he will not be racing anymore. This came as a shock to his friends, sponsors and the sport. Sean Hartnett, a good friend of Haile Gebrselassie (Haile calls Sean ” Dr. Marathon”), told RBR that “Haile seems to feel that it is one thing to be defeated by competitors, it is another to be defeated by one’s own body.”
The world record holder in the marathon, at 2:03:59, Haile had his right knee drained yesterday afternoon, but showed huge class by starting the race, and running well until just before he grimaced in pain, on the Queensboro bridge at 1:19:40 into the race (just before sixteen miles), and dropped out of the race.
Meb Keflezighi, sixth place today, last year’s victor, praised Haile just after his announcement, as a “great role model, the world’s greatest distance runner and huge legacy to the sport.”
Haile Gebrselassie had run 28:02 at the BUPA Great Manchester 10k, 59:33 for the BUPA
Great North Run half marathon, and 2:06:09 at the Dubai Standard Chartered Marathon in 2010. He had dropped out of the NYC Half marathon with a breathing issue. At the age of 37,
Haile has had a storied career.
At the Friday press conference, the normally ebullent Haile was a bit introspective as his huge rival and friend, Paul Tergat introduced him. Haile had announced on his twitter account today that finishing NYC might be hard, as he had a problem with his knee.
Obviously, we will update on future developments here. RBR had been told that Haile was to run Tokyo Marathon next spring. It was obvious that Haile was speaking from his heart, and that he was distressed.
RBR thanks Haile Gebrselassie for his nearly two decades of racing and inspiration.