Great Gebrselassie forced to rethink farewell
Haile Gebrselassie was hoping for a farewell race at the Olympics and one last shot at a gold medal in the marathon.
The distance running great and former world record holder won't get the chance after failing to make Ethiopia's team, denying him an ideal swan song at the London Games.
Gebrselassie said on Friday he also was unlikely to run the marathon at next year's world championships in Moscow and had been forced to rethink how he ends one of the best distance running careers ever.
"Next world championships, I don't think so," the 39-year-old Gebrselassie said on being asked if he had one more marathon run at a major meet left in him. "If possible, this (the Olympics) was the plan. The next world championships, I don't think so. Maybe something else," he said.
Gebrselassie broke his own marathon world record in 2008 at 35 and won two Olympic golds and four world titles in the 10 000 metres. He also set over 20 world records and countless Ethiopian records and ran successfully in distances ranging from the 1 500 metres to the 42-kilometre (26 mile) marathon, leading to him being considered among the greatest athletes ever.
Gebrselassie also failed to qualify for the 10 000 in London but joked Friday with reporters that he was still hoping to be a late addition to Sunday's marathon field.
He would be watching the marathon in London, he said, but was disappointed that the runners who do get to compete won't finish in the Olympic Stadium.
Organisers have opted for the marathon course to end on the Mall in central London, near Buckingham Palace. Gebrselassie said a stadium finish would have been ideal for the race at the games.
"That is the organisers and what they wanted. For me, if it's possible to finish in the stadium, imagine," he said. "This is the best crowd I've ever seen in my life in athletics. If the marathon finishes in the stadium, ask the people."
Gebrselassie said the marathon was still an iconic event for the Olympics, and "if we talk about Olympics, we have to talk about marathon."
But there would have to be a special performance in Sunday's race to convince him that David Rudisha's world record-breaking win in the 800-metre final wasn't the outstanding distance running display at the 2012 Games.
Kenya's Rudisha won in an impressive show of front-running Thursday night to take gold and lower his own world record to 1 minute 40.91 seconds over two laps, shaving .10 of a second off the mark he set in 2010.
"The one from yesterday, the 800 metres was the most (impressive)," Gebrselassie said.
"It's a guy, from the beginning to the end to break the world record himself. It's astonishing. This is really amazing. I was watching that race. Fantastic."
Rudisha's Kenyan teammates Abel Kirui - the 2009 and 2011 world champion - Wilson Kipsang and Emmanuel Mutai are the leading contenders for gold in the marathon, with the African country's team so strong it left out current world record holder Patrick Makau for the Olympics.
The Kenyans have been tipped for a 1-2-3 finish.