Dubai Awaits Gebrselassie Record

Never had a city waited in such anticipation before. If you are in Dubai, the question that has been teasing everyone has got something to do with an Ethiopian whose never ending runs have now become a part of the legend.



By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Fri 22 Jan 2010, 8:29 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 2:36 PM

Haile Gebrselassie may lack the glamour of Usain Bolt. But the Ethiopian, like the Jamaican sprint king, too has captivated the world with his relentless urge to break his own records.

When the 2010 Standard Chartered Dubai International Marathon, to be held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, begins on Friday, fans will be dying to see another new world record from arguably the greatest long distance runner in history.

Men

1 Haile Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia) PB 02:03:59

2 Sammy Kipchoge Korir (Kenya) PB 02:04:56

3 Tesfaye Tola Heyi (Ethiopia) PB 02:06:57

4 Joshua Koech Chelanga (Kenya) PB 02:07:05

5 Daniel Kipkoech Yego (Kenya) PB 02:08:16

6 Dejene Juhar Yirdaw (Ethiopia) PB 02:08:30

7 Chala Dechase Beyene (Ethiopia) PB 02:08:31

8 Yared Asmerom Tesfit (Eritrea) PB 02:08:34

9 Dereje Tesfaye Gebrihiwot (Ethiopia) PB 02:08:36

10 Eshetu Wendimu Tsige (Ethiopia) PB 02:08:41

Women

1 Askale Tafa Magarasa (Ethiopia) PB 02:21:31

2 Bezunesh Bekele (Ethiopia) PB 02:23: 09

3 Helena Loshanyang (Kenya) PB 02:25:01

4 Genet Getaneh (Ethiopia) PB 02:26:37

5 Eyerusalem Kuma (Ethiopia) PB 02:26:51

6 Shuru Diriba (Ethiopia) PB 02:28:26

7 Woynishet Girma (Ethiopia) PB 02:29:50

8 Yeshimbet Taddesse (Ethiopia) PB 02:30:41

9 Etalemahu Kidane (Ethiopia) PB 02:31:11

10 Isabella Anderson

“Of course, there is pressure — everyone keeps asking me about it. I will never say I am going to do this or I am going to do that, but the route is great, the weather is fine, so who knows,” Gebrselassie said on the eve of the most eagerly waited race of his illustrious career.

There is a million dollar bonus at stake. All he needs to do is to lower his personal best time of 02:03:59.

One has seen such kind of expectations only in India where a billion people expects Sachin Tendulkar to score a hundred every time he goes out to bat.

You can forgive the fans for thinking that it’s going to be a one man race. After all, they have rarely seen such dominance on road racing.

Still, Gebrselassie will be the first to admit that no race is won until you reach the finish line. The field in Dubai includes some very tough competitors and they will give their all to stop the Ethiopian from running away with all the glory.

Sammy Korir, the Kenyan, has a personal best time of 02:04:56. His career best is not even one minute less than that of Gebrselassie. Hence, the two-time defending champion has to be at his very best against Korir, who won the bronze medal in this event in 2008.

Another athlete who could give Gebrselassie a run for his money is Tesfaye Tola Heyi. Tesfaye’s personal best is 02:06:57 and he is known to be a tough competitor.

The other top runners in the field are Joshua Koech Chelanga, Daniel Kipkoech Yego, Dejene Juhar Yirdaw, Chala Dechase Beyene, Yared Asmerom Tesfit, Dereje Tesfaye Gebrihiwot and Eshetu Wendimu Tsige.

Among them, Yared Asmerom of the tiny African country Eritrea has made big progress in little time. Yared comes to Dubai six years after he reluctantly became a runner by participating in an army 5,000m race. Remarkably, at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he surprised everyone by finishing in the top 10.

Yered’s biggest dream is to win an Olympic medal one day for his country. Well, he might take his first step towards Olympic glory on Friday. After all, Dubai gives him a grand stage to display his talent.

It’s a stage that is waiting for its greatest performer to deliver another memorable race. Haile Gebrselassie has become a role model for talented runners like Yared Asmerom.

There will be many more emerging runners when the race begins at 6:30am from The Westin, Mina Seyahi on Friday. In fact, there will be as many as 12,000 runners in all section of the Dubai Marathon.

The champion in the men’s section will take home $250,000, while the runner up will get $100,000 and the second runner up will receive $50,000.

Everybody seems to know who will take the first prize. The question is whether Haile Gebrselassie could cope with pressure of expectations. Dubai is waiting to see another world record from a legendary runner.

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com


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