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Gebrselassie fails to qualify for Olympics

Ethopian athlete Haile Gebrselassie competes during the 10.000 metres race at the Fanny Blankers Koen Games in Hengelo on May 27, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / ANP / TOUSSAINT KLUITERS)

NETHERLANDS: Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie failed to qualify for the London Olympics Sunday as he could only finish seventh in the 10,000m. The two-time Olympic 10,000m champion – who had already failed to post a qualifying time for the marathon – admitted his hopes had been dashed after his disappointing performance against 12 of his compatriots.

“The Games in London, is over for me,” he told AFP.

“I ran a good race till the last lap. I felt good but I manifestly didn’t have the speed to compete against my rivals.

“That’s life. I am not disappointed,” he added, whose epic defeat of Kenyan great Paul Tergat at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, his second Olympic title, is one of the great finishes of all time.

Tariku Bekele and Leleisa Desisa Benti finished first and second respectively – with the former posting the best time in the world this year of 27 minutes and 11.70 seconds – to book their tickets for London.

The third spot is being kept for Bekele’s older brother and world record holder Kenenisa, who has been struggling for several months with a calf muscle problem.

Gebrselassie said that he felt he was handing over the baton of Ethiopian track running to a golden generation.

“Ethiopia will be stronger in London,” he said.

“I gave all that I had. It is why I am not sad or disappointed. I am always happy to run.” Gebrselassie, a four-time world 10,000m champion, had come into the race boosted by his victory in the 10km Great Manchester Run in northwest England last week in 27 minutes and 39 seconds.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 29, 2012, on page 15.

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