Ethiopia will enter a strong team in the 17th African Athletics Championships in Nairobi, world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie has said.
The Ethiopian legend, the greatest ever distance runner, also implored Kenya’s elite athletes to compete at the July 28 to August 1 Championships at the Nyayo National Stadium.
In an interview in Nairobi on Monday, the 37-year-old Gebrselassie, who has broken a massive 27 world records, said despite the fact there is no huge prize money at the African Championships, the title of African champion should be motivation enough for the athletes to come and run in Nairobi.
Value for athletes
“There might not be much money at the African Championships, but these days, sponsors consider the title of African champion in their contracts and this gives athletes more value, and that’s why these athletes have to take the African Championships seriously,” Gebrselassie said.
“I expect to see a strong Ethiopian team in Nairobi and I expect to see Meseret Defar, Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele. They competed at the last championships in Addis Ababa and it will be good for Africa that they come to Nairobi also.”
Multiple Olympic and world champion Gebrselassie said, after all, Ethiopians will have a slight advantage in Nairobi owing to the fact that Addis Ababa’s altitude is higher than Nairobi.
Good sprint times
He also termed Nairobi as a venue that would attract good times for the sprinters too. “It is an opportunity for sprinters to run good times and also for the distance runners to come and experience Kenyan training methods and conditions – Nairobi 2010 will be a benefit to all athletes.”
The 17th African Athletics Championships in Nairobi will also be used to select Africa’s team to the IAAF Continental Cup (formerly World Cup) to be held in Split, Croatia.
Gebrselassie was in Nairobi on Monday as a special ambassador of the G4S security company where he mentors young athletes under the G4S 4teen programme. He also met with Peter Angwenyi, the Nairobi 2010 Media Director, on Monday.