Gebrselassie’s exit cause for big concern

Wednesday November 14 2018

Ethiopia track and marathon legend Haile Gebrselassie when he visited Nation Centre in Nairobi on January 20, 2017. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Haile Gebrselassie’s resignation as the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) president after two years of serving got me thinking. In his own words, Gebrselassie claimed his resignation was “a sacrifice” for local athletics — whatever that means!

But long and short of the story is that it’s a shame this had to happen in a country many other African countries look up to as an athletics super power.

The running great has stated that the recent incidents, in particular at the cross country championships in Sululta, 15km north west of Addis Ababa, where some of the athletes put forth demands that the federation

could not possibly meet given its financial limitations, showed a lack of respect from some athletes and leaders for members of EAF’s executive committee.

He, however, admitted that he was well aware of the challenges he was going to face from groups and individuals on his way to implementing reforms from day one. However, he feels, it’s the right time to leave the office after witnessing conspiracies and political machinations especially from fellow athletes.

To be honest, when Gebrselassie was elected, we were all excited that one of our own was here to change the matrix of how athletics is run — himself being a former athlete. But the fact that he has been forced to bail out, speaks volume of how an athlete’s enemy happens to be a fellow athlete. For us from these sides, Gebrselassie was a perfect solution to athletics problems in Ethiopia.


I am sorry to say the conspiracy by fellow athletes to push him out is a “disease” that is also prevalent here in Kenya.

But truth be told, leadership is God given and we cannot all lead. Bottom line is, there are athletes who are born leaders and there are others who are born to be led. The problem is that most athletes think that just because you represented a country you have the right to lead or tell leaders what to do.

For things to work in the Ethiopian athletics arena, Gebrselassie needed time having been there for only two years.

Already he had made giant steps in as far as the development of the EAF is concerned but his enemies who have always wanted a “status quo” thought otherwise. I can only pity them and hope that they will not regret their decision.

As athletes, we have to learn to respect our seniors if we want to grow.

It is easier to criticise from outside but leadership is not a bed of roses as we always think.