Person of the Week for April 20: Haile Gebrselassie

"This is a very different time we are win. Everything's locked down and sporting events have been cancelled all over the world, so we have to be able to support our community."

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The second Athletics Illustrated Person of the Week honour is awarded to Haile Gebrselassie for the week of April 20, 2020. On Saturday, April 18th it was announced that Gebr would donate £30,000 to the Covid-19 Relief Fund set up by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The great distance athlete known as the Emporer said, “This is not a time to take advantage but to save lives. Right now we have to stand side by side.”

Off to a humble start, the Person of the Week honours will grow, however, currently there are more important things going on in the world than seeking sponsors and handing out physical awards – that will all come in due time.

For now, Gebrselassie earns the second Person of the Week honours for expressing his concern about the pandemic by donating to the country’s relief fund.

After a successful athletics career, he has turned his focus to business. He now owns hotels, coffee farms, an auto parts factory, a school and a movie theatre in Ethiopia. He is concerned about his employees as much of his business has been affected by the pandemic.

“This virus affects everyone, whether you live in a slum or you are the prime minister of the United Kingdom. Nobody is safe. You could see that lesson as a golden opportunity for people.”

International competition

Gebr won two Olympic gold medals and four World Championship titles in the 10,000-metre event. He won the Berlin Marathon four times in a row and won three consecutive times at the Dubai Marathon. He also won four world indoor titles and is the 2001 World Half Marathon Champion.

He showed great range, running well from the 1500m up to the marathon. He ran the former as fast as 3:33.73 and held the marathon world record at 2:03:59. The performance stood as the national record until fellow Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele ran 2:01:41 at the age of 37.

He earned 13 gold medals and medalled 21 times at major games.

Athletics fans continue to search out his famous finish against Kenyan Paul Tergat from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games 10,000-metre race.

Gebr’s running form was always a thing of wonder. Near impeccable, but he had a crook in his right arm due to running to school every day with books in his hand.

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The Athletics Illustrated Person of the Week recognition is an endeavour that aims to recognise noteworthy or newsworthy achievements, actions or events in the sport of athletics by individuals who are involved or have affected the sport in some way.

The weekly decision will be the discretion of Athletics Illustrated, however, input from readers is welcome.

At the end of each year, the Person of the Week honours will be reviewed and featured along with a Person of the Year recognition taken from the list of weekly honours.

If you feel someone should be recognised, please register, login and provide the person’s name and reason.

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