Gebrselassie to return to Newcastle
Provided by IAAF
Former champion Haile Gebrselassie, the world's greatest ever distance runner, will chase a second victory at the Bupa Great North Run - IAAF Gold Label Road Race - on Sunday 16 September.
The all-conquering Ethiopian, with 27 world records under his belt, will again be a welcome figure when returning for the world's most iconic half marathon, which he won two years ago.
Gebrselassie produced a wonderful display over the Newcastle to South Shields course. After taking control of the race at the halfway point, he surged to a very fast performance of 59:33 - the world's fourth fastest time of 2010.
Now the 39-year-old former World Championships gold medallist over the distance is looking to notch up another success in a race which he acknowledges is "so big and wonderful and it is good to be part of its history."
Gebrselassie has had strong links with the North East of England, where he first showed his massive future potential two decades ago, by winning the County Durham International Cross Country title . He has also competed at major meetings at Gateshead International Stadium.
His early victory in the Durham event as a junior international runner was succeeded by an unmatchable career which, apart from his world records, has seen him win two Olympic 10,000m gold medals and four World Championships titles over the distance.
Gebrselassie, although not chosen for the Ethiopian squad for the London Olympic Games, said: "I want to continue running - age is no barrier to me, you are only as old as you want to believe you are."
That philosophy has seen the "Emperor" as he is affectionately known, turn his attention more and more to road running and in May score a fifth victory against a global class field at the Bupa Great Manchester Run, in what then was a world leading time for the year.
A month previously he created an even bigger headline when beating Paula Radcliffe in the Vienna "Catch Me If You Can" half marathon where he gave her a seven minutes 52 seconds head start - the difference between their world record marathon best times - but easily overtook her.
“I'm looking to returning to the Bupa Great North Run, it does mean very much to me," said Gebrselassie, delighted to be invited to return to the region last month and carry the 2012 Olympic torch on the South Tyneside leg of its nationwide tour of Great Britain.
"I always wanted to compete in the Great North Run much earlier than two years ago, but circumstances, injuries and big marathon races always prevented me doing so," he added.
"I'm sure there will be another great competition happening in September. The best athletes like coming to the event and I look forward to racing them."
Organisers for the IAAF