Athletics: Gebrselassie calls it a day from competitive running

Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie waves as he approaches the finish line at the end of the Morrisons Great Manchester Run. During an interview afterwards, he announced his retirement. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie waves as he approaches the finish line at the end of the Morrisons Great Manchester Run. During an interview afterwards, he announced his retirement. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Haile Gebrselassie, considered one of athletics' greatest distance runners, said on Sunday he was retiring from competitive running.

The Ethiopian's long-time manager at first said it was not the end of the athlete's career but later issued a press release saying he had retired.

"Running legend Haile Gebrselassie announced his retirement from competitive running at the Great Manchester Run today where he ran his last competitive race," the statement said.

Gebrselassie was quoted as saying: "I am retiring from competitive running, not from running. You cannot stop running, this is my life. And I am still enjoying my farewell tour like today in Manchester."

But it is not the first time he has talked about calling it quits.

Gebrselassie had tearfully retired five years ago after knee problems forced him to drop out of the New York City Marathon.

But he returned to racing a few months later.

Nearly unbeatable on the track in his prime, he won his first of eight indoor and outdoor world championships at Stuttgart in 1993 and went on to hold world records from the 5,000 metres to the marathon.

His Olympic medals came in the 10,000 metres in successive Olympics, 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney.

Gebrselassie will now focus more on his businesses in Ethiopia where he is involved in real estate projects, owns four hotels, a coffee plantation and is a car distributor.