Search This Blog

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Haile Gebreselassie makes Ethiopian day in New York

Tedla Asfaw
This is not ordinary August in New York City weather wise it is unusually cool dramatic fall from days of heat and humidity. The race as you heard it was between Haile and Abdi and the Last year Boston Marathon winner from Kenya.

An Ethiopian runner who came out one of the top ten told me as we went home by train that most of the race 8 miles was run in the Central Park tough hills and once out of Central Park the Kenyan and Abdi a Somali born US citizen want to take over of the race and Haile step up to the challenge.

As you heard from Haile he was surprised by the pace and he has no choice but to take full control of it in Time Square and Haile was energized by those tall buildings and took his race to the West Highway.

The concrete of West Highway is another punishing race for all athletes and finally we received Haile in the Battery Park finishing line and what a crowd. Ethiopians not only from New York and the surroundings but also from Washington joined us with plenty of flags to wrap ourselves.

Haile has finished his race with new record 59:24 minutes and the singing continues. "Amora Seyeshe Wale Ye Haileye Neshe Eyale", Ethiopians stood tall and high in this day in New York City not only because of Haile but also three Ethiopian men got the top three place finish and our two women also finish the top ten.

The chase for Haile now started and about hundreds Ethiopians surrounded his resting hotel and waiting the coming of Haile and we told his security that we can not go without Haile. The singing continued while Haile was changing and preparing for the ceremony.

Once we spotted Haile protected by guards we went nuts and the chanting was deafening and we followed him for a walk better call it chase to the ceremony site and this is unbelievable chasing Haile in the Battery Park City and we all were emotional.

Other spectators and runners were attracted by our excitement and celebration and we made this year New York City Half-Marathon memorable not only for setting new record but wonderful celebration with beautiful flag and beautiful people.

Who do not want to be an Ethiopian today in New York City and how many parents are ready to name their new born "Geb" for Haile Gebreselasse. This is indeed a celebration which brought together friends we have not seen for long and meet fellow athletes in New York City who make us very proud .

The young Ethiopian female athletes who came few years ago from Ethiopia who did not run this year told me these are times which make all of us happy and went on saying that she wishes our politicians learn from our athletes to set a goal and work hard to achieve it.


Gebrselassie Wins NYC Half Marathon
NEW YORK - Haile Gebrselassie already showed he can make it anywhere; he can add New York to his list. Running in the Big Apple for the first time, the 34-year-old Ethiopian won the New York City Half Marathon in 59 minutes, 24 seconds Sunday _ the second-fastest time in the United States and his eighth win in eight half marathons.
"I was dreaming just to run in New York City. The dream has come true this morning," said Gebrselassie, probably the world's greatest distance runner. "Wow, I'm so happy!"
Abdi Abdirahman of the United States was second, more than a minute behind. Two-time Boston Marathon champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya was third in the second running of the race.
Hilda Kibet of Kenya won the women's race in 1:10:32, outsprinting defending champion Catherine Ndereba by 1.15 seconds. Nina Rillstone of New Zealand, a surprise leader until the final quarter-mile when the two Kenyans passed her, was 2.60 back in third.
Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, emerged from Central Park after the 7-mile mark, along with Cheruiyot Abdirahman. Gebrselassie and Abdirahman dropped Cheruiyot when the Kenyan went for water, and before the American knew it, he was in Gebrselassie's wake, too.
"I thought I was going to recover my surge and then just maintain the pace but it wasn't that way," Abdirahman said. "I didn't give up, no way. We know Haile's the greatest, but at the same time, this is sports."
Gebrselassie didn't see it quite the same way.
"Right after the park, I just said 'OK, this is my race,'" he said.
All that was left was a Sunday morning jog. He took a moment to gawk at Times Square, like any tourist would, as he breezed through, then he trotted down the West Side of Manhattan to Battery Park, occasionally looking back to see if anyone was gaining on him.
Of course, no one was, even though Abdirahman's time of 1:00:29 was a personal best. Cheruiyot was taken to a hospital as a precaution after he finished in 1:00:58. In October, the Kenyan slipped while crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon and spent two days in the hospital with a concussion.
The women's race wasn't decided until Kibet turned it on at the finish. The Kenyan, who said she will probably compete for the Netherlands in the 2008 Olympics, discovered her finishing kick this year in a race when she had to beat her sister over the final 100 meters or so.
"You know when it comes to sprinting, when you're just a few meters from someone, then you feel very strong," Kibet said. "You're just fighting to win."
Ndereba was confused by marshals pointing to different routes at the finish for men and women, and didn't see a sign indicating how close the runners were until 200 meters remained. It wasn't enough to catch Kibet, who also beat Ndereba by more than 30 seconds in a 10-kilometer race in July.
"I didn't know who to go with," Ndereba said. "I'm not disappointed. I never get disappointed for this kind of thing. ... I count it as something to work on."
The temperature was a comfortable 70 degrees after a week of oppressive heat and humidity, helping Gebrselassie set the course record.
Gebrselassie, who holds world records in the 10K and 20K, won gold in the 10,000 meters in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. His time Sunday (a half-marathon is slightly more than 21 kilometers) was second-best in the U.S. only to his own 58:55 in Tempe, Ariz., last year. It was the 16th-fastest half marathon.
In the days before the race, Gebrselassie soaked up the bustle of the city. On Sunday morning, he ran through mostly deserted streets.
"Yesterday, I was in Times Square. I was there," he said. "It was very busy. Today, nobody. Amazing."
Does this mean he'll run the New York City Marathon?
"Not this year," Gebrselassie said. "I'm thinking 2008 or 2009. I'm thinking I'll run the New York Marathon before I stop running, surely."
A service of the Associated Press(AP)