Ethiopian long distance great confirms his decision to hang up his racing shoes after the Great Manchester Run

Haile Gebrselassie has announced his decision to retire from competitive running.

The news comes after the Ethiopian long distance great finished 16th at the Morrisons Great Manchester Run on Sunday.

In a statement published on the Facebook page of his management company Global Sports Communication, the 42-year-old said: “I am retiring from competitive running, not from running.

“You cannot stop running, this is my life. And I am still enjoying my farewell tour like today in Manchester.”

The International Association of Athletics Federations stated that Gebrselassie’s manager, Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communication, had confirmed the athlete’s retirement with the world governing body.

Gebrselassie set an incredible 25 world records during a career which also saw him claim two Olympic and four world gold medals over 10,000m as well as four world indoor titles and a world half-marathon gold. His road running career also saw him become the first to go sub-2:04 for the marathon when he ran 2:03:59 in Berlin in 2008, a time that still places him fifth on the all-time list for 26.2 miles. He remains the world record-holder over 20,000m as well as in the one hour race.

His impressive range means he also won a world title over 1500m indoors, while the indoor 2000m was among the world record he broke. He still sits second behind his fellow Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele on the world all-time lists for 5000m and 10,000m.

“I want to thank all my fans, friends, competitors and main sponsor Adidas for their support and for all they did for me,” said Gebrselassie, who began competing on the global stage in 1992 when he won double world junior gold over 5000m and 10,000m in Seoul. “I have had 23 incredible years in athletics on the elite level!”

He added: “Looking forward to stay involved as a running ambassador and promote running around the world.”

Women’s marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, who herself recently retired from competitive marathon running, was among those to react to news of Gebrselassie’s retirement on social networking site Twitter.

“A great athlete, a great competitor but a wonderful human being,” she wrote. “Thank you Haile.”

Gebrselassie had previously announced his retirement from the sport in 2010 after the ING New York Marathon. As AW reported at the time, news of his retirement five years ago came as a great shock and rocked the athletics world, but the running legend returned to racing and has since continued to be one of athletics’ greatest ambassadors.

As AW ‘s editor Jason Henderson tweeted on Sunday: “I was at the 2010 New York Marathon when Haile Gebrselassie first retired, but I have a feeling today’s decision might be more permanent.”

After clocking 30:05 to finish 16th in Manchester on Sunday, five-time Great Manchester Run winner Gebrselassie had gone back to the start to run the 10km route again as a part of the mass field.

He told BBC Sport: “I’m very happy to stop here. I knew this was going to be the last one.”