Despite his disappointment at dropping out of the Berlin marathon this weekend and seeing his twenty-year record shattered by Kenyan Patrick Makau, 38 year-old Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie has insisted he won’t retire and is targeting the 2012 Olympics in London.
"I don't want to miss the Olympics” he said. "It is London and to win here is something very special. I want to go down in history. I'm thinking about qualifying [for the 2012 Olympics]. The qualification time has to be something special. We Ethiopians have to run at least 2:04 or 2:05, because only the top three go to London.
History already shows that Gebrselassie has won two Olympic 10,000m gold medals, in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney four years later, four World Championship 10,000m golds and four World Indoor Championship golds, as well as nine marathon victories during a glittering 20-year career.
However, in recent seasons he has been challenged by illness and injury. He failed to finish last year’s New York marathon due to an inflamed knee and even went so far as to announce his retirement, only to reverse the decision just days later. Last weekend, exercise-induced asthma forced him to drop out of the Berlin race after 35km.
"Last Sunday I tried my best but it didn't work," Gebrselassie told BBC Sport. "Now I'm looking forward. I'm planning for the next marathon. Many of the Ethiopians have already run these times so I have to be careful if I want to be in London. That is why I ran fast in Berlin at the beginning of the race and, of course, I didn't finish."
When asked if he was considering retiring again soon, he replied "I don't agree with that. If they think Haile Gebrselassie is old now - not yet. I'm only 38."