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- The Greatest: The Haile Gebrselassie Story - Jim Denison - Google книги
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- Born to run: Haile Gebrselassie interview
I tell them, of course I run on. Now I want to win in London The outcry in Addis was understandable. Gebrselassie is not merely renowned across his homeland for his athletic longevity, he is also his country"s finest ambassador, the man who puts his nation on the map every time he runs. More to the point, wherever he runs, he always returns to his roots. His home has always been Addis, these days in a sprawling marble palace he shares with his wife, Alem, and four children: daughters Eden, 13, Melat, 11, and Batiy, nine, and five-year-old son Nathan, known as Natty.
The house is in a suburb next to the forest that rings the city, so close to the wild that when he comes home late at night he sees hyenas rummaging through his dustbins. After his morning run, Gebrselassie heads to his office on the eighth floor of the Alem Building named after his wife. His business empire employs some people and his interests range from coffee his beans, he insists, are the world's most flavoursome to motor trading.
He has the sole licence to import Hyundai cars into this part of Africa, and about 35 brand new Korean hatchbacks are currently stored on his front drive while he waits for a showroom to be built. He also runs a successful property business with Alem, which has financed the building of seven of Addis's tallest buildings. All of which has helped make him one of Ethiopia"s richest men.
There is nowhere else I would like to invest. His brother, Assefa, largely runs the businesses, but Haile is more than a figurehead, he makes decisions on a daily basis. And there is a philanthropic edge to his ambition. He has built two primary schools in Ethiopia and is heavily involved with the Great Ethiopian Run, Africa's largest mass athletics event, which works with NGOs and the UN to inform people in his homeland about health matters and the importance of education.
I have seen things few of my countrymen have. The first time I went on an aeroplane I couldn't "t work out how the lavatories worked up in the sky. But they do here. The Ethiopian people are incredible. The affection he feels for his countrymen and women is reciprocated. Wherever he drives through the chaotic streets of Addis, people wave, smile, laugh. Taxi drivers holler, traffic cops salute him. When he parks, a gaggle of schoolchildren surround the car, girls squealing at him as if he were a member of a boy band.
[PDF] The Greatest: The Haile Gebrselassie Story Download Online
His presence seems to cheer everyone up. They all love him because his global success contrasts with the usual wider image of Ethiopia as a place hamstrung by debt and poverty. Gebrselassie makes their country look good. So much so, not a day goes by when he is not pestered by those wanting him to do more than just put a spring in the collective step.
During the course of only one day with him, at least four people stop and ask when he is going to stop running and enter politics. Haile, they tell him, we need you to run the country like you run a marathon: properly. But then I am very impatient. Now in business, I have to do things not tomorrow, not today, but yesterday.
If I rule this country one day, I will want it to run with me. Very fast.
The Greatest: The Haile Gebrselassie Story - Jim Denison - Google книги
Passing time with Gebrselassie is an exhausting business. He does everything at breakneck pace. He has just completed a tower block in downtown Addis 18 months ahead of schedule, sometimes turning up on site in the middle of the night to encourage the night shift to work harder. When he sits down to breakfast, he is standing up again before the first splash of coffee has hit his cup, dashing off to his next appointment, urging his guests to follow.
Set just under the mountain, in a eucalyptus forest the trees were imported from Australia in the s , this is a place of pilgrimage for many in Addis.
When we arrive, women in bare feet are prostrating themselves on its steps, howling out their devotion. It was here that he married Alem, his childhood sweetheart, in a ceremony that had thousands lining the streets to catch a glimpse of the couple. It was here his children were christened. And it is here he comes to prepare psychologically for big races. When you promise something, you must fulfil it. These medals don"t belong to me. They belong to the church.
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Gebrselassie is not suggesting there was anything divine in his success, but attributes it to more earthly reasons. No one will make it without those three. Sport teaches you that.
Some athletes, after they have won something, because they are not disciplined, they don"t make the most of it. I am disciplined. Sometimes when I meet people and they say, "What do I have to do to be like you?
“I don’t know, but I can find out.”
I say, "Look, sport has to come from inside. He takes the medals from their cases and threads them over Butdee"s neck. The boxer laughs and punches the air. Then he has his picture taken with them.
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These two are lonely. They need a friend. Later, Butdee says that of all the things Gebrselassie did with him during his trip to Addis, the training, the motivational talk, the sight of his splendid house, it was wearing those medals that was the most inspirational moment. Yet Gebrselassie himself seems unmoved by the gongs. I do lots of things, but nothing compares to running. Like real estate, once you have built a building there's nothing else to do, it's just collecting money.
With running, every day is different. Every run is different. When I run 10km on the treadmill, always I check the time. Sometimes it's 28 minutes something and I'm not happy. Then I run 27 something and I'm smiling. If the whole world ran, it would be a better place. Is that what he would do, then, if he were ever to become his country"s leader: make sure that his entire cabinet joined him for his morning constitutional?
Born to run: Haile Gebrselassie interview
Education is all. That is what I would love to do for this country: educate it. It is quite a task. With 39 per cent of the population living below the internationally recognised poverty line, survival is more of a priority than schooling; fewer than 58 per cent of pupils make it into secondary education. Small wonder that no more than 40 per cent of year-old girls are literate. Gebrselassie would like the whole of Ethiopia"s youth to have some of the opportunities his wealth has brought his children, who attend the international school in Addis.
They get taken there in a Hyundai; there is no running six miles to lessons for his kids, which explains why none of them shares his pencil-thin physique or indeed his love of athletics.