New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS): Two-time Olympic gold medallist long distance runner Haile Gebrselassie on Friday predicted that Indian atheltes will outshine their Kenyan, Ethiopian and other African counterparts on the track in the coming days.
Gebrselassie reckoned that it is just a matter of time when India produces that first athelete who wins a medal at a major international event like the Olympics or a World Championship and a number of youngsters will begin to follow his/her footsteps.
“Believe me, the Indians have the talent, perfect body structure for long distance but the only thing is they should be motivated and they show knowhow to train. If they can do that, I am afraid in the future Indians can dominate the Kenyans and Ethiopians in athletics,” said the 43-year-old, who will flag-off the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi marathon on Sunday alongside cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar.
“Its very difficult to find a first athlete, who won the first medal but once he/she gets that, it will be very easy. Specially in a country like India… the problem is to find that first athlete who can inspire others,” he added.
Gebrselassie, who also is a brand ambassador of sports apparel brand adidas — the marathon’s official running partner, urged the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to motivate the potential medal winners who, he felt, will be found in remote parts rather than in bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
“AFI needs to try to motivate the athletes. Here in India, cricket is a big sport. At the same time cricketers get sponsors… likewise, if you sponsor the athletes, they can really do good,” he said.
“But at the same time, it’s difficult to find such athletes in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, it’s mostly from the countyside where you can find those talents, who can be groomed to be potential medal-winners in major international events.”
“India is a much better country than Ethiopia or Kenya in terms of economy. I have never seen a rich family in Ethiopia producing an athlete, 95 percent of them come from a poor family,” he added.
A winner of four World Championship titles, Gebrselassie also had a piece of advice for ordinary citizens who find it difficult to focus on their fitness in their daily life.
“Running is part of my life. Even after retiring, I spend almost 30 minutes running everyday, sometimes I hit the gym. I got myself injured during hard training two months ago.”
“One does not need to go outside to keep oneself fit. You can take a bicycle, a small machine in your house, you can train without going outside and sweat inside,” he said.