World Indoor Legends – Haile Gebrselassie

Haile Gebresilasie after winning the 3000m at the 2003 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham (Getty Images)

Our countdown to the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 continues with our look back at legendary indoor performers. Here, versatile Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie recounts his four world indoor titles.

You started running regularly on the indoor circuit in 1996 setting world records for the 3000m and 5000m. What was your motivation for targeting indoor racing?

I started indoor running because I was not a good cross country runner. In the winter the two options were to run either indoors or cross country. My first indoor race went well over 5000m (he set a world record of 13:10.98 in Sindelfingen) which I thought was fantastic.

The following year you set another world indoor 5000m record (12.59.04) in Stockholm. Why did you opt to compete at the 1997 World Indoor Championships?

I wanted to prove I could be an indoor champion. That was the motivation. I wanted to make history.

Did you have to prepare differently for indoor racing compared to outdoors?

To prepare for indoors I did a lot more speed work. Also, because we had no indoor tracks in Ethiopia, I made sure I practiced often around the curves. My focus also for indoor was to work on carrying the speed around the curves.

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