Haile Gebrselassie

First Man Under 2:04

Born in 1973 in Arsi province, Ethiopia, Haile Gebrselassie grew up on a farm as one of 10 children. He helped fetch water and ran back and forth several kilometers to school, all in the region’s high altitudes, prepping for a life in athletics. He place second at the World Junior Cross Country championships in Boston in 1992, and later that year won the 5000m and 10,000m at the World Junior Championships in Seoul. In 1993, he notched his first of four consecutive 10,000m world titles, and in 1995, he set a 5000m world record of 12:44.39 at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich, breaking the old record by nearly 11 seconds.


In 1996, Gebrselassie struck gold at the Atlanta Olympics, narrowly beating Paul Tergat in the 10,000m. He defended his title at the 2000 Sydney Games, becoming only the third man in history to notch back-to-back Olympic wins over that distance.


He moved up to the marathon, winning in Berlin in 2006. The following year he defended his title in a world-record time of 2:04:26, and in 2008 he became the first man in history to run sub-2:04 with his 2:03:59, another world mark. He retired from competition in 2015 having won two Olympic gold medals and nine world titles, and having set more than two dozen world indoor and outdoor records.


He continued to run for fitness and established himself as a successful businessman and a mentor to young runners via the G4S 4teen program. Once called the “smiling assassin” because of his cheerful disposition, he’s not an athlete who’s shied away from being a role model. His message: “Win for yourself.”


"I ask people win themselves first, which means you can win anything that you dream, that you plan, what you want,” he told CNN in 2013. “This really is my tip for everyone.”

Race History

Career Highlights

Year Event Time
2001 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships 1:00:03
2002 London Marathon 2:06:35
2005 Amsterdam Marathon 2:06:20
2006 Berlin Marathon 2:05:56
2006 Fukuoka Marathon 2:06:52
2007 NYC Half 59:24
2007 Berlin Marathon 2:04:26
2008 Dubai Marathon 2:04:53
2008 Berlin Marathon 2:03:59
2009 Dubai Marathon 2:05:29
2009 Berlin Marathon 2:06:08
2010 Dubai Marathon 2:06:09
2010 Tokyo Marathon 2:08:17

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