Distance runner Haile Gebrselassie made a strong bid for a third Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters in Beijing, but the 1996 and 2000 champion had to settle for sixth place in 2008. He's currently focusing on training for the 2012 Olympic marathon. His 2009 highlights included marathon victories in Dubai (2:05:29) and Berlin (2:06:08). He repeated as Dubai champion in 2010 (2:06:09). He won a pair of half marathons in 2011.
Change of plans:
Gebrselassie changed his mind about competing in the 2008 Olympic marathon due to concerns about Beijing’s air pollution. That was a break for his potential marathon competitors, as the Ethiopian set the world marathon record (2:04:26) in 2007 and broke it again in 2008 (2:03:59). Both marks were set in the Berlin Marathon.
As a child, Gebrselassie made three-hour round trips into the mountains to bring water to his village. Today he helps raise money for “Vicky’s Water Project,” which delivers clean water to a remote area of Ethiopia.
Gebrselassie won 10,000-meter gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics before placing fifth in Athens. He also won four consecutive 10,000-meter World Championships (1993-99), three World Indoor 3,000-meter titles (1997-99 and 2003), plus the World Indoor 1,500-meter gold medal in 1999 and the World Half-Marathon Championship in 2001.
- Height: 5-4
- Weight: 117
- Birth date: April 18, 1973
- Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- World Championships: Nine (Four outdoor, four indoor, one half-marathon)