Ethiopian legend Gebrselassie talks athletics in Ghana

Tuesday, 08 September 2015 17:33
Gebrselassie, 42, announced his retirement from competitive running in May Gebrselassie, 42, announced his retirement from competitive running in May

Ethiopian long distance great Haile Gebrselassie says Ghana must tackle the lack of athletic prowess from the grassroots and address the lack of role models for aspiring athletes to become a major force.

The multiple world and Olympic champion feels there is a relation between high profile role models and the number of youngsters taking up the sport but also believes Ghana can make up for that by encouraging participation in schools at an early age.

“I don’t think there is no talent in Ghana,” the Ethiopian athletics legend said.

“From what I have seen, I believe Ghana can do well but you have to start them early and in schools. There is the other problem of role models. In Ethiopia after Abebe Bikilla won the Olympic marathon gold in 1960 and 1964, every kid in Ethiopia wanted to run too, to be an Olympic champion which is a powerful motivation. In Ghana every kid wants to be the next big soccer star because it is the biggest thing here but athletics is cheap and easy to do so it will be important to encourage them from schools.”

While Ghana has produced sprinters like Aziz Zakari and field athletes like Ignatius Gaisah who have competed at the highest level, the impact of the sport has been nothing compared to football or boxing.

 Gebrselassie, who is generally regarded as the greatest long distance runner ever, was in Accra over the weekend for the Millennium Marathon .

By Yaw Ofosu|TV3 Sports|Ghana