Ethiopia: Haile Gebrselassie wants to rule athletics and country

 DIANA RENEE , businessday.co.za

ETHIOPIAN long-distance running legend and businessman Haile Gebrselassie wants to live forever: his head is buzzing with ideas, none of them modest.

Gebrselassie wants to run the Olympic marathon in Rio de Janeiro 2016, at the age of 43, to take the Games to Africa and to be his country’s president.

His permanent smile briefly made the listener think he may be joking, but "Gebre" insisted he was serious. "For me is not enough. I am still doing not only athletics: I am in other sports as well," he told reporters on the fringe of London 2012.

The man regarded as one of the best long-distance runners in history, an Olympic champion in the 10.000m in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 and a four-time world champion, is as shy of words as he is of the way ahead.

"(I am involved in) other activities, business. In future I want to be involved in politics."

But that is still years ahead. First, he wants to run in Rio 2016 in the marathon, the discipline he devoted himself to when he gave up the track in 2004.

"Why not? Why not running? You see, when you are a runner you have to set goals. If you don’t have a goal, why are you running?" he said.

He declined to run in Beijing 2008 due to the air pollution in the Chinese capital, which might have aggravated the asthma he has suffered from since childhood.

In London 2012, his involvement ended at the opening ceremony, which he describes as a "wonderful experience" and one that allowed him to meet the likes of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"Gebre" divides his time between sports and managing his many business interests in Ethiopia, including hotels, a school of gymnastics, a cinema and a car dealership. His businesses, he said, were going well. Politics, business and sport are all intensive in time and effort, but Gebrselassie said he had everything under control.

"(It’s) not too many things. When I stop running it will be politics. I am doing just two things right now, business and running, and when I stop running it is business and politics."

He has not set deadlines for himself, however. Neither deadlines nor limits: when asked whether he could be a future candidate for the Ethiopian presidency, he flashed his trademark smile and said: "Why not?"

Limits are little known to this athlete, who also hopes to convince the International Olympic Committee that Africa is ready to host the Olympic Games. "That is what I discuss with my friends here. Why cannot Africa host an Olympics very soon, I say? Look what happened with SA in the World Cup. It was a fantastic World Cup," he said.

"Africans today, they know how to host a great championship."

Sapa-DPA

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Tags: Ethiopia:, Gebrselassie, Haile, and, athletics, country, rule, to, wants

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Comment by IBEX on August 9, 2012 at 4:50am

Halie, first of all, I would like to express my highest appreciation for your ambitious dreams and vision . I hope you will be successful adequately and your inevitable outstanding performances on the long distance running and various businesses in the past 10 years and so do successful on the free track field of Ethiopian Politics. Any how, I wish you all the best that you dream as a honest and loyal president of Ethiopia.     

Comment by Wedi Raya on August 8, 2012 at 11:02pm

Great Athlete Haile,

Go on, I do not think they thought you will make it this far back then and many may doubt your abilities in becoming the future leader of our country, I don't. If that is what you dream & if that is what is burning in your heart I say GO FOR IT GREAT MAN. I don't think one needs to have a PHD in politics to lead a nation He is already a leader in his field, He leads & manages his house and his business. He is successful and determined He achieved what he said he will achieve.  Hey, fellow Ethiopians the time should come that we encourage and push a bit our fellow men/women to reach their dream & it is high time to damp the old culture of pulling people down to our level even below. ይቻላል ልብህ የፈቀደውን ፈጽም ጀግናው አትሌታችን !! እንዴ የማንንም ምስት አልተመኘ የምወዳትን ሃገሩን ለመምራት አንጂ ደግሞ ዛሬ አላለም ለሞያው የሚያስፈልገውን ለመማር ምን ያቅተዋል እግር እኮ ያለጭንቅላት አይሰራም አዎ እግር ጭንቅላት ነው

Comment by Ayalew Abdisa on August 8, 2012 at 4:09am

Dear Haile,

Thank you for your grand "vision". My main question, and what amazes me much, is not about your being Ethiopian president; but what are you going to do if you are appointed president of the nation? Let me tell you what you are becoming: ditto. Remember a shoe can never be a crown. They are made for different purposes, as you were born just to run, not to rule.

Comment by naomi on August 2, 2012 at 8:53am

dear haile i respect and admire you sports skill but '' egir chinkilat ayhonim ''.

Comment by Michael Medhin on August 2, 2012 at 7:10am

i think he is someone who can live up to his dreams. It won't take him longer to realize his distant plan.

Comment by Yitagesu Zewdu on August 2, 2012 at 6:20am

Haile Gebrselassie wants to live forever and need to be a president  of his country ...... amusing ...I thought Haile is very smart,wise enough.... but I see from his interest some primitivization retorogression  ......   Haile.... you might be a president of of Ethiopia (what type of president we shall see) but believe me you cannot live forever...... All dictators believe they can live forever. But only the evil they have done during their lifetimes lives forever........

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