In beating a world-class field over 10km, Haile Gebrselassie raised hopes that he can still make the London Olympics
Haile Gebrselassie showed he might yet make the London Games after a dominant victory over a quality field in the Bupa Great Manchester Run on Sunday.
He won the race for the fifth time in a world leading 10km time of 27:39 and beat two leading fellow Ethiopians plus the world record-holder for the marathon. The time was also more than half a minute quicker than his victory last year and is a mark he has only beaten once in the Mancunian race – when he ran 27:25 the 2005 event.
Afterwards, he was pounced upon by a large press pack who were keen to ask him what he now felt his chances were of gaining London 2012 qualification when he runs the 10,000m on the track in Hengelo – an official Ethiopian Olympic trial event – on May 27.
Gebrselassie’s trademark grin was wider than usual but he was non-committal over his Olympic chances. “Let’s wait and see what happens in Hengelo first,” he said.
Seventeen seconds behind Gebrselassie was runner-up was Tsegaye Kebede, the former London Marathon champion, followed by Ayele Abshero, who ran 2:04:23 for the marathon earlier this year and is one of the athletes who has kept Gebrselassie out of the 26.2-mile event at the London Games.
Kebede and Abshero ran 27:56, while Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda was fourth in 28:19 with world marathon record-holder Patrick Makau fifth in 28:21. Top Briton was Neil Burton of Tipton Harriers in 29:31 with James Walsh and Derek Hawkins 10 seconds behind.
Linet Masai, the 2009 world 10,000m champion, won the women’s race in 31:35 and she heads next to the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. Nadia Ejjafini of Italy was second in 31:52 and Doris Changeiywo of Kenya third in 32:04 but much interest was on the British athletes.
Charlotte Purdue finished top domestic runner as she narrowly missed her PB with 32:13 in fourth place overall. The Aldershot athlete hopes to be named in the British team for the European 10,000m Challenge in Bilbao, Spain, on June 3. There, she is expected to attack the Olympic A standard for 10,000m of 31:45 with Jo Pavey, who beat the Olympic 5000m A standard with 15:14 at the BMC Nike Grand Prix at SportCity the night before the Great Manchester Run.
Behind Purdue, next Briton was Mara Yamauchi – she placed sixth with 32:28 and was pleased with her form ahead of the Olympic marathon. Her next race is the Bupa London 10,000 on the roads on May 27.
Gemma Steel, however, who was many people’s tip to be No.1 Brit in Manchester, was a minute-and-a-half behind Purdue with 33:42. It was an uncharacteristically poor run and maybe due to the fact she’s only recently come down from altitude in Font Romeu.
>> Full coverage from the Bupa Great Manchester Run, Powerade Great CityGames, BMC Nike Grand Prix and Loughborough International in Thursday’s May 24 issue of Athletics Weekly.