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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Haile: My greatest race
By Tom Fordyce

Haile Gebrselassie out-sprints Paul Tergat to win Olympic 10,000m gold in Sydney
Tergat leads Gebrselassie down the home straight in Sydney
In a glittering career, Haile Gebrselassie has broken 17 world records indoors and out, won two Olympic 10,000m golds and four World 10,000m titles.

But which of his performances does he consider his greatest ever run?

Gebrselassie, who will run his final ever track race in the Olympic 10,000m final on Friday, told BBC Sport that for a long time he thought nothing could top his 5,000m world record set in Zurich in August 1995.

"I knew I was in good shape - I was really flying," says Gebrselassie. "I had run well at the World Championships and then I went to Zurich to break the record.

"But to break the old mark by such a big gap - that was unforgettable."

Gebrselassie didn't just break Moses Kiptanui's old record - he destroyed it in a way that no-one has ever done before or since.

Kiptanui had run 12 minutes 55.30 seconds in Rome two years previously. Haile, then a fresh-faced 21-year-old, blew that away with a staggering 12:44.39 - almost 11 seconds quicker.

But then, five years later, came a victory even more memorable than that - the Olympic 10,000m final in Sydney.


"I had endured many problems on the way to Sydney," Haile remembers. "The competition was very tough as well, with everyone very close to each other in terms of ability.

"I was close to not competing. But when I got there I thought I might as well fight for it."

Gebrselassie was up against his arch-rival, Kenya's Paul Tergat. With less than a lap to go, the men were neck-and-neck, roared on by 110,000 spectators in Stadium Australia.

Haile Gebrselassie out-sprints Paul Tergat to win Olympic 10,000m gold in Sydney
The moment of triumph - Haile takes gold from a distraught Tergat

"I did not expect Tergat to attack then," says Gebrselassie. "Usually he goes from about two kilometres out, but that day he waited and waited until the last 200m.

"When he went past me on the home straight, I thought he had won the gold. I thought that was it.

"But I decided I had to try to just track him to the finish line to make it as hard as possible for him. I did not think I could win."

With Tergat beginning to tie up, Gebrselassie first drew level and then, in the final few strides, edged ahead to snatch victory from the disbelieving Kenyan.

"Tergat did everything he could," says Haile. "He was simply unlucky that it was not his day. I wish that they could have given out two gold medals that day.

"But it was so special to win like that, in that fashion in an Olympic final. I will never forget it."

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