Haile Gebrselassie celebrates winning the men's 3000m final (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 17 February 2004 – Monte

Haile takes a long view of Budapest

MonteCarloHaile Gebrselassie is looking forward to the 10th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary (5 - 7 March 2004), and both the men’s and women’s 3000m competitions could become an Ethiopian party.

Somewhat buried amongst the catalogue of World and Olympic titles compiled by the 30 year-old Gebrselassie are his four World Indoor gold medals (3 x 3000m and 1 x 1500m). Of these indoor crowns, it is his 1500m and 3000m double in Maebashi, Japan in 1999 which best enforces his status as the greatest distance runner in history, but which so often have been overlooked when people recall his four outdoor World and two Olympic 10,000m titles.

Gebrselassie, the reigning World 3000m champion, will return to defend his title in Budapest, with his gold medal hopes boosted by a 7:29.34 world season’s fastest run in Karlsruhe on 15 February.

“I am happy, healthy and some small injury problems (to left hip and side of the groin) are now finally settled,” confirmed Gebrselassie. “I am looking forward greatly to running in the World Indoor Championships.”

“Geb has seen a chiropractor to sort out the problems to his back from which his other injuries have stemmed, and he is now sprinting better and is beginning to reap the benefits in terms of speed, as his endurance base was always good,” confirmed his manager Jos Hermens today. “Karlsruhe was only a step on the way, he will get faster.”

Possibly joining Gebrselassie in the Budapest 3000m will be his compatriot Kenenisa Bekele (7:30.77, Stuttgart), the World 10,000m champion, but the 21 year-old will only make a firm decision about his participation after taking part in his second ever indoor competition in Birmingham this Friday.

At present, the non-Ethiopian hopes of the 3000m title in Budapest seem to rest on the top three finishers in Fayetteville last weekend, Boaz Cheboiywo of Kenya (7:38.30), Ireland’s Alistair Cragg (7:38.59 NR) and American Daniel Lincoln (7:40.17), and perhaps Kenya’s Paul Bitok (7:43.23, Stuttgart) and Ukraine’s Sergiy Lebid (7:43.29 NR, Karlsruhe).

Adere looks a certain favourite in women’s 3000m

Ethiopia also looks a firm bet for gold in the women’s 3000m in Budapest. The current world indoor season list is headed by the 8:33.05 run by Berhane Adere, who like Gebrselassie is the reigning World Indoor champion. Having slashed eight seconds off the World indoor 5000m record at the end of January, the 30 year-old World outdoor 10,000m champion has clearly brought her Paris form from last summer on to this winter’s boards.

Currently two British runners (Pavey and Tullet), and two Germans (Mockenhaupt and Mikitenko) look to be the most credible challengers to the Ethiopian's dominance but they are at best ten seconds adrift of Adere’s 2004 fastest. However, Russia’s Yelena Zadorozhnaya who won the European Cup last weekend could also spring a surprise.