15 NOV 2004 General News

Gebrselassie is back running and aiming for comeback in February

Haile Gebrselassie wins 5000m in London IAAF SGP (Getty Images)Haile Gebrselassie wins 5000m in London IAAF SGP (Getty Images) © Copyright

Just over two months after undergoing an operation on his left Achilles tendon, former quadruple World and double Olympic 10,000m champion Haile Gebrselassie has confirmed that his “recovery is going well”.

The 31 year-old who is in Amsterdam today for a photo-shoot for his kit sponsor confirmed that only a matter of two to three weeks after his operation (9 September) he was back in light training.

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The Achilles tendon injury had rendered impossible his attempt to win a medal in the Athens Olympic 10,000m, where he finished in fifth (27:27.90) just over five seconds adrift of third place. That Olympic race on 20th August was the last major championship track outing of Gebrselassie’s career and his thoughts are now firmly focused on road racing, especially the Marathon.

“I didn’t expect the recovery to be so fast. My doctor is amazed by the progress. He thought that the earliest I could consider beginning running would be in January but now, not even nine weeks after my operation, I am already back in training.”

“I began first exercise just two weeks after the treatment with some light gym work. A week later I was exercising in the pool, doing aqua jogging, and four weeks after the operation I was running again on a treadmill.”

“I am now back doing approximately one hour per day of light running on soft ground in the forest and occasionally on grass.”

So dramatic has been the recovery that Gebrselassie is now seriously looking to make a competitive comeback on the roads in February next year. Not surprisingly he was not prepared to speculate specifically about future record or major championship bids at the Marathon but they "remained targets."

“I do not want to push anything too fast. I already feel very lucky and do not want to threaten the recovery by doing something too quickly.”

Gebrselassie, a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, will fly back to Ethiopia tomorrow (15 Nov) but will stop on route in Nairobi to offer support to fellow UN campaigner Paul Tergat, the World Marathon record holder, whose road race on 27 November is in aid of the fight against the use of land mines.

“Paul is a great friend of mine and is doing a very important job. Unfortunately, I cannot attend the race itself because the following day I am already committed to the Great Ethiopian Run (in Addis Ababa), but I wanted to show my support for such a very important cause.”

Chris Turner for the IAAF