LONDON, England, July 29 – Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie admitted Sunday that it was “painful” not to be competing at the London Olympics, but held out hope he could make the Rio Games in four years’ time.
Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic and four-time world 10,000m champion, failed to progress from an Ethiopian qualifying trial in Hengelo in May and was omitted from his country’s team.
To add to his woes, the 39-year-old had already also failed to post a qualifying time for the marathon in what would have been his fifth Olympics.
“It’s very painful not to be running here after all I have achieved,” Gebrselassie said.
“The only thing I don’t like here in London is that I’m not running here. I’m sorry for that.”
He added: “Hopefully I’ll be running for the next four years and you’ll see me in Brazil. Why not?!”
Gebrselassie backed compatriot and former teammate Kenenisa Bekele to win the 10,000m from a clutch of Kenyan rivals and British hope Mo Farah.
“I say Bekele for the 10K,” he said, warning that Bekele would prefer a fast pace.
“The 10,000m depends on the pace. If the pace is slow, you could say Mo Farah.”
Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, winner of this year’s London marathon, got his nod as gold medal favourite in the 42.195km-long race.