Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie has pledged to keep on running as an ambassador for his sport, despite announcing his retirement from top-level competition in the wake of his appearance in the Morrisons Great Manchester Run on Sunday.
At the age of 42, the ‘Little Emperor' can reflect on a trailblazing career in which he laid claim to being the greatest distance runner of all-time. He set a staggering 27 world records, won two Olympic 10,000m titles, four World Championship 10,000m crowns and won world indoor titles at 1500m and 3,000m.
Gebrselassie won the Great Manchester Run a record five times and stressed, after finishing 16th in the 2015 edition of Europe's biggest 10km road race, that his running days are far from finished.
“I am retiring from competitive running, not from running,” said Gebrselassie. “You cannot stop running; this is my life. And I am still enjoying my farewell tour, like today in Manchester.”
Gebrselassie, who first made his mark as winner of the world junior 5,000m and 10,000m titles back in 1992, said he would now focus more on his businesses in Ethiopia. He employs more than 1,000 people in several businesses and is involved in real estate projects, owns four hotels and a coffee plantation.
His next big dream is to be part of the further development of Ethiopia. He considers community projects as his responsibility. He is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations and involved in tree planting, road projects and he built several schools in his residential area.
Gebrselassie again underlined that he will also remain a running ambassador and intends to stay active in athletics.
“I want to thank all my fans, friends, competitors and sponsors for their support and for all they did for me,” he said. “I have had 23 incredible years in athletics on the elite level. I am looking forward to staying involved as a running ambassador and to promoting running around the world.”