Runners could get Haile's help
WORLD marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia and Kenya's Paul Tergat have volunteered to assist South African athletes, the country's top athlete, Hendrick Ramaala, confirmed yesterday.
Tergat is a former world half-marathon and marathon record holder, who like Gebrselassie dominated the 5000m, 10000m and cross-country.
Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Ramaala said he had had a lengthy discussion with the two world greats before and after the New York Marathon on Sunday.
Gebrselassie and Tergat are friends of Ramaala, the 2004 New York Marathon champion whom they hold in high esteem. The duo separately told Sowetan Ramaala had helped to build the profile of South African track and road running by doing well abroad.
"I was in the United States last weekend for the New York Marathon, where I also had the opportunity to meet Haile and Paul," Ramaala said.
"The two gentlemen are happy that I'm also involved in the administration of Athletics South Africa because they believe tht my experience as an athlete bodes well for the future of the sport.
"We discussed various issues in terms of taking athletics in Africa to another level. We want to see Africans continuing to dominate athletics in the world.
"Haile has announced his retirement but said he would come running if we invited him to South Africa and the same goes for Paul, who is now jogging to keep himself in great shape.
"We appreciate the support we are getting from Haile and Paul and many athletes in the world look up to them as role models because of their individual success in the sport."
Meanwhile, Gebrselassie's manager, Jos Hermens, told the Associated Press the Ethiopian was reassessing his sudden announcement to retire and hope he would run until the London Olympics.