Friday, May 25, 2012

Haile Gebrselassie seeks 10,000m qualifiying time for the London Olympics

By Wim van Hemert for the IAAF

Haile Gebrselassie,    Photo: AP

Haile Gebrselassie and the eastern Dutch city of Hengelo have a special and strong bond. In Sunday’s 30th edition of the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, the famous Ethiopian hopes to qualify for the London Olympic 10,000m. A very strong field of around 30 athletes, 16 of them from Ethiopia, will be the highlight of the most important annual track meet in The Netherlands.

Gebrselassie, the former World record holder in the 10,000m (26:27:75) and twice Olympic champion over the distance, will get very strong opposition from his countrymen Sileshi Shihine (26:39:69) Imane Merga (26:48:35) and Gebre Gebremariam (26:52:33) who all have personal bests inside 27:00:00. For most of the 10,000m entrants Sunday’s race will be one of the last possibilities to gain a berth for London.

Gebrselassie, who is a citizen of honour in Hengelo and wears the nickname "Mr.Hengelo'' and set four World records in the city, made a very strong impression at the Bupa Great Manchester 10Km last Sunday. The 39-year-old won the race in England in 27:36, clocking the fastest time of this year beating his countrymen Tsegaye Kebede and Ayele Abshero by 17 seconds. For the Ethiopians in the race it is the final decision for London. After the Manchester race the ever smiling Gebrselassie said, "I did not want to run so fast but it gives me a lot of confidence for the Hengelo 10.000 metres. I love it to be in Hengelo again. I have a lot of confidence.''

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