Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, the four time World and twice Olympic 10,000m champion will tomorrow make his competitive comeback, from the calf injury which led to the cancellation of his entire summer season, at the QSI 10k Road Race in Doha, 11 December.
As first confirmed by Gebrselassie’s manager Jos Hermens, on the IAAF site on 12 November, Gebrselassie is now fit and well and has fully recovered from the calf injury, which he originally sustained when making the world’s fastest ever Marathon debut (2:06:35, Ethiopian record) for third place in London last April. This same injury later curtailed the Ethiopian’s attempt on the world record for the One Hour run in Hengelo in June.
With Gebrselassie's marathon plans now on hold and his eyes set firmly on recapturing the World 10,000m title which he lost in 2001, the Ethiopia maestro in Doha tomorrow will hope to prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with at 10km.
He will face stiff opposition from a number of his fellow countrymen including World silver and Olympic bronze 10,000m medallist Assefa Mezgebu, Olympic 5000m champion Million Wolde, 1999 World Cross Country bronze medallist Hailu Mekkonen and 1992 Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Fita Bayissa.
Also included in the field will be the Kenyans, James Kipketer (10km PB 27:55), Philip Mosima who holds the World junior 5000m record (12:53.72, 1996) and Felix Limo (10km PB 27:39). Driss El Himer of France who has a 2:07:02 marathon PB to his credit (he won in Amsterdam 2001) will also fight for honours.
The women’s start list is equally as weighty, with Ethiopia represented by World and Olympic 10,000m champion Derartu Tulu, the World Cross Country short course champion Geta Wami who made an impressive 2:22:19 marathon debut recently, Ayelech Worku the World 5000m bronze medallist, and 2000 World Cross Country short course champion Kutre Dulecha.
Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan, the European 5000 and 10,000m silver medallist will lead Europe’s challenge after a disappointing ‘debut’ at the marathon last month in New York. While also included in the starting line up is Olympic 1500m champion Nouria Benida-Merah of Algeria.
If any more spice was needed, the organizers have also offered a prize purse of one million US dollars for anyone who can break the world road best for 10km – men’s 27:11 or women’s 30:39.