Kenya-Ethiopia rivalry is like India-Pakistan cricket rivalry: Haile Gebrselassie

Haile Gebrselassie set a world record of 2:03:59 to win the 2008 Berlin Marathon, which he captured four years straight Getty Images

Mumbai: Jan 17, 2013

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie on Thursday associated the rivalry in long distance running between his country Ethiopia and neighbouring Kenya to the one between India and Pakistan on the cricketing field.

“Kenya and Ethiopia have a healthy competition in running which is good. Can you be good in cricket without (rivalry with) Pakistan?,” asked the Ethiopian long-distance great in an interaction with the media ahead of the 10th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon to be held on Sunday.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist in 10,000m and four-time world champion in the 25-lap track race, who later switched over to marathon to set world records in the gruelling event, is the brand ambassador of 42.1km race to be contested on the streets of Mumbai.

Gebrselassie, still remembered for edging out Kenyan rival Paul Tergat by a nine hundredths of a second to win the 10,000m gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, said that healthy competition between countries was “very important”.

The 39-year-old athlete, who set a world record of 2:03:59 to win the 2008 Berlin Marathon, which he captured four years straight, stressed the importance of running for the common man.

“If you want to wash your brain, run and sweat,” was his mantra, which Gebrselassie said has helped him staying successful in his business back home in Addis Ababa.

“That’s why I am a successful businessman. My brain is already ready in the morning when I come to the office.

Whatever it is, a day without running….forget it,” he said.