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Tergat en Gebrselassie

Gebrselassie en Paul Tergat zijn naast elkaars grote concurrenten ook nog eens sportvrienden. De beminnelijke Tergat en de goedlachse Gebrselassie ontmoeten elkaar tijdens de uitreiking van de Kenyaanse sportprijzen. Al gauw kwam het gesprek op de historische olympische 10.000 mtr finale tijdens de OS 2000 in Sydney. In april volgt een nieuwe confrontatie tijdens de Londen marathon. Gebrselassie maakte bekend in 2006 twee marathons te gaan lopen.

21 januari 2014 (0 reacties)

Ontmoeting van twee atletiekgrootheden

Gebrselassie verslaat op de finishlijn Tergat (OS 2000)

Door Omulo Okoth

Two of the worlds greatest long distance runners met up for breakfast at The Stanley Hotel Nairobi on Thursday.Given the lightness of the banter and the informal mien of the two stars, however, one would have been hard pressed to believe that the pair of Haile Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat have between them chalked up almost every award open to a long distance athlete.

Gebrselassie and Tergat are a picture in contrasts. The Kenyan is tall and has a purposeful air about him while the Ethiopian is short and walks around with the chuckle of one who has just heard a very good joke. The one thing they share, however, is athletics CVs that can run and run.For starters, Tergat, apart from winning world cross country title five times (1995-1999), 10,000m Olympics and World Championships silver twice, and breaking the world 10,000m record in 1996, also holds the world marathon record (2:04:55).Gebrselassies CV is also impressive. And it would suffice to abridge it for this article. His achievements include the Olympics 10,000m gold in Atlanta and Sydney, 10,000m world titles in Stuttgart (1993), Gothenburg (1995), Athens (1997) and Seville (1999). He has held many world records and currently has the world half-marathon record (1:58:55) under his belt.The Ethiopian athletics legend was in Kenya to attend Wednesday nights Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year award ceremony, organised by Tergats company, Fine Touch Communications.
The next morning, the distinguished pair made their way to the Thorn Tree restaurant at The Stanley, where they caused a stir as the realisation that two legendary athletes were in the house swept over the place.It was also humbling for me to get a chance to chat up the legends, although the interview was not made any easier by the fact that Gebrselassie stood up to receive me to the ‘high table for the interview — a gesture normally only reserved for the elderly and most respected members of society!I took it in my stride, however, and launched into the interview.

Historische finale 2000
Gentlemen, what would you have done differently given a repeat of the epic 2000 Sydney Olympics 10,000m final?
Both roared in laughter, and it was Gebrselassie who spoke first: “That one was the most memorable race in my life and I am sure Paul, too, would rank it as his best ever race. Paul was in better shape. He was actually going to win had we not strategised well,” says Gebrselassie, who won the race by the skin of his teeth.”Although I beat Paul in Atlanta (Olympics) four years previously, Sydney was a different race, but I think overconfidence might have cost Paul the gold. He usually attacked earlier, but this time he waited until a bit late,” said the Ethiopian.Paul then interjected: “No no no, you (pointing at Gebrselassie) should thank (Assefa) Mezegebu for that race. You know, as we approached the bell, I suddenly realised Mezegebu had shot in front of me and would not let me pass. I was put inside a box and I could not extricate myself from there until only 70m to finish,” said Tergat with a smile.”As we approached the 200m curve, he remained there and even tried to push me to the third lane. I, however, fought back and went in front but I had wasted a lot of energy. That is what cost me the title,” he added.”These guys were so smart. They trapped me inside a box and I lost my concentration on Haile and switched to Mezegebu. But I dont regret having lost to Haile because I lost to a great man. I would have been upset had I lost to Mezegebu,” said Tergat, as Gebrselassie broke into a wide grin, before adding his views. “Paul was in such great shape and he was the clear favourite to win the race. I did not even see the finish line. In fact, I did not know I had won until I looked at the scoreboard,” he said.

Twee marathons in 2006
“But it was always enjoyable running against Paul. And I will keep going until Paul retires. (Australian former Commonwealth games champion) Robert De Castella won his last marathon title at 42,” he said.”I am seeing myself running until 2008 Beijing Olympics. Right now, I have London Marathon in my plans, and a couple of track races but not at high level. I will then run another marathon later in the year. I have not decided which one,” said Gebrselassie.”Unfortunately, I am not yet there. I have not broken into the marathon world with the same success that I did on track.”London will parade some of the worlds top marathon runners, among them Italys Olympic champion Stefano Baldini, Moroccos world champion, Jaouad Gharib, Boston Marathon winner, Hailu Negusse of Ethiopia, Chicago Marathon champion Felix Limo, Tergat, reigning London Marathon champion Martin Lel and former winner Evans Ruto and South Africas Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa.Despite beating Tergat many times on the track, he does not hide his respect for the Kenyan with whom they share a lot of secrets of athletics. They also share a passion for charity. While Gebrselassie is a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, Tergat is a United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation Goodwill Ambassador. “I cant count people I help at home with education and other stuff like that. God gave us talent and we must give it back to society,” he says.

© Eastern Standard


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