Wed, Mar 19, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Gebreselassie will not run in Beijing's Olympic marathon

AFP AND AP , MADRID AND LONDON

World record holder Haile Gebreselassie has confirmed in an interview with a Spanish newspaper that he will not run in the Beijing Olympics marathon because of the climatic conditions in the Chinese capital.

"I have no intention of committing suicide in Beijing," the Ethiopian, who suffers from asthma, told El Pais. "I know that several other athletes are starting to have doubts about this."

"It's purely a personal decision that I have taken to protect my health. I do not want to endanger my future. I do not want to kill myself in Beijing.

"The marathon will be impossible because of the pollution, heat and humidity," he said before confirming that he intended to focus instead on the 10,000m.

"I want to be an Olympic champion once again and also to compete in Beijing. That's why I have been trying to find a solution and that would be to once again compete in the 10,000m as I did at Atlanta, Sydney and Athens."

To do so, however, he will first have to secure his qualification as one of the three Ethiopian runners eligible to run in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Steve Redgrave, Britain's most successful Olympian, will run in the London leg of the Beijing torch relay.

The former rower's participation as one of the 80 runners in the relay, which will be held on April 6, was announced on Monday by Olympic sponsor Samsung. Redgrave, who won his fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, also ran in the Athens torch relay.

"With the Olympics in 2012 getting ever closer there is no better time for the general public to engage with the Olympic spirit, customs and tradition -- and the torch is a big part of that," said Redgrave, referring to the 2012 London Games.

Samsung said Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon will also run, along with four competition winners.

Only three other runners have been announced -- two-time Olympic champion Kelly Holmes, British broadcaster Trevor McDonald and actress Amara Khan.

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