(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
After dropping out of the 2010 New York City Marathon after 25 kilometers, Haile Gebrselassie told a packed press conference that he had decided to retire from top-level athletics. The room fell silent in disbelief.
“I did really very hard training to win this race,” he said, welling up. “It didn’t work… After this, I know I have no discussion with my manager, with anybody, but I discuss with myself. That’s why it’s better to stop here.”
But just a week later, he decided that his decision in New York had been too hasty. Through his management agency, Global Sports Communications, Gebrselassie said his brief retirement was over.
“After the race I was tired, I was in pain and I was disappointed that all my hard work didn’t bring me the result I was hoping for,” he said through a statement. “I was very emotional.”
Since then, Gebrselassie—perhaps the greatest distance runner of all-time with more than 20 world records, two Olympic gold medals and five world titles—has competed regularly, if less frequently. When he turned 40 in 2013, he set masters (40+) world records for 10K (28:00), 10 miles (47:00), and the half marathon (1:01:09).
But on Sunday, Gebrselassie—now 42 according to his official date of birth—decided to finally hang up his road flats for good. In Manchester, England, after the Morrisons Great Manchester Run, he told the media that he had just run his last top-level road race. Hours later, in a statement released by his management agency, Gebrselassie confirmed his retirement.
“I am retiring from competitive running, not from running,” he said after finishing 16th in 30:05. “You cannot stop running, this is my life. And I am still enjoying my farewell tour like today in Manchester.”
Gebrselassie will now focus more on his businesses in Ethiopia. He employs more than 1,000 people, his management company said, and is involved in real estate projects, owns four hotels, a coffee plantation and is the distributor for Hyundai in Ethiopia.
“I want to thank all my fans, friends, competitors and main sponsor adidas for their support and for all they did for me,” Gebrselassie concluded. “I have had 23 incredible years in athletics on the elite level! Looking forward to stay involved as a running ambassador and promote running around the world.”