Ethiopian Haile Gebreselassie broke the marathon world record on Sunday in Berlin in 2 h 03 min 59 sec, becoming the first man in the world to run the distance under 2 h 04 min. thus establishes the 26th world record of his career, improves the previous world record on the 42.195 km of 27 seconds, a record which he had beaten last year in the German capital, in 2 h 04 min 26 sec.
“I’m so, so happy. Everything was perfect today, the weather was perfect, the audience was perfect! I’m so happy!”, exclaimed the marathon runner, on his arrival under the Brandenburg Gate by a radiant sun.
“Two weeks ago I had a little calf problem and I had some doubts coming here but I took a week off and the problem seems to be fixed,” he said. his unfailing smile.
Gebreselassie, double Olympic champion in the 10,000 m in 1996 in Atlanta and in 2000 in Sydney, had indicated in mid-September that he could improve his record during the Berlin marathon which he won for the third consecutive time.
Asked about his goals now, he said he could “maybe” reach the 2:03:30 mark. “But my biggest opponent is my age,” joked the 35-year-old athlete during a press conference after the race.
He also reaffirmed this weekend that Berlin, where the world championships in athletics will also be held next year, was a city that brought him particular luck. “It’s like home here,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Sunday.
Of the nine marathons he has run so far in his career, he has won six, including Dubai in January.
During the last Olympics, the Ethiopian did not want to defend his chances, fearing the high humidity and excessive heat, as well as pollution.
It was the Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru who, at just 21 years old, became the new Olympic champion in the specialty by beating the Olympic record in 2 h 06 min 32 sec.
Quadruple world champion in the 10,000m (1993, 1995, 1997, 1999), “Gebre” had hardly shone on the distance in Beijing, only ranking sixth while his compatriot Kenenisa Bekele had won the gold medal in the discipline.
Already a long-distance runner and businessman, Gebreselassie had indicated in May that he was considering starting a political career in Ethiopia.
The marathon runner refuses in any case to say when he will end his sports career. “Whoever gives the date of his withdrawal has already withdrawn in his heart,” he poetically said on Sunday.
In Berlin on Sunday, Gebreselassie beat Kenyans James Kwambai (2:05:36 a.m.) and Charles Kamathi (2:07:48 a.m.)
The coach of the German football team, Joachim Löw, kicked off the marathon at 09:00 local time (07:00 GMT). Some 40,000 runners are taking part in this 35th edition of one of the most famous marathons in the world, along with New York, London, Chicago and even Boston.
Among the women, the German Irina Mikitenko won on the Berlin asphalt in 2 h 19 min 19 sec after having already won the London Marathon in April.
She had withdrawn from the Beijing Olympics because of a foot injury.