Haile Gebreselassie is an Ethiopian retired long-distance runner, marathoner, national hero, and successful businessman. Haile, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is considered one of the greatest runners in the history of athletics. He was an exceptional athlete running at the highest level for about two decades. He broke 27 World Records, ranging from the 1500m to the marathon.
Haile’s outstanding personality and career achievement have induced many people to take him as an idol. Haile was also listed as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans on the New African magazine in 2011. Haile also possesses a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit involved in a multi-business sector. What is more, He also participates in many social and charity activities with a mission to improve the lives of many ordinary Ethiopians.
Childhood | Early Life
Haile Gebreselassie was born on April 18, 1973 to Gebrselassie Bekele and Ayelech Degtu. Like some other great runners (i.e., Derartu Tulu and Fatuma Roba), Haile originated from the Asella province, Oromiya Region of Ethiopia. He is one of the ten children of his farmer’s parents.
Unfortunately, Haile’s childhood was full of difficulties and hardships. His family was on a low financial status. As a result, Haile had to struggle with extreme poverty. Worsening the situation, a famine hit the country, including his village. And this all summing up made it difficult for his father to provide food to his ten children.
As a child, Haile used to run barefoot 10 kilometers to school each day and the same distance back home, carrying his school books. He was so fast that his mates couldn’t catch him at all. Running with books under his arm affected his future way of running by crooked his left arm.
At first, Haile did not have any ambition of running. In his interview with Jim Johnson, he even said that he wished about becoming a pilot or an artist. But, he chose running to escape from his extreme poverty.
As a teenager, Haile was inspired by the two notable Ethiopian runners, Abebe Bikila and Miruts Yifter. Haile’s first race was a 1,500 m school race. At his early running time, many spotted his running potential. Later on, Haile was asked to join the Ethiopian national athletics team. Surprisingly, he used to defeat his trained teammates without any formal training.
Carrer & Achievement
Haile Gebreselassie has an impressive two-decade career history flooded with outstanding local and international awards. He is a versatile athlete and could run at different distances. Since starting, he had run and won distances between 800 meters to the marathon. Haile could also participate in outdoor, indoor, cross country running, and road running competitions. And He has collected many significant awards in every distance he has run in.
Haile Gebrselassie had brought his motherland a lot of glory over his two decades of long-distance running. Throughout his career, Haile sets 27 world records at various distances. Moreover, he broke 61 Ethiopian records ranging from 800 meters to the marathon. Haile possesses two Olympic 10,000m gold medals and nine world titles: four at 10,000m, one at the half marathon, and four indoors. In addition, he won marathons worldwide in places like Fukuoka, Berlin, Dubai, and Amsterdam.
Apart from his running career, Haile was also the president of the Ethiopian Athletic Federation.
In 1991, Haile, representing his country, participated in his first international competition. As it was his first major event, he didn’t achieve any significance. His achievement started at the age of 19 when he won the 1992 World Junior Championships. Haile took first place in both the 5,000m and the 10,000m race in this world event. A year later, at the IAAF World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, he won the 10,000-meter race. Afterward, Haile defended his 10,000 titles for the next three consecutive World Championships in 1995, 1997, and 1999. In the 1994 world championship, Haile had set his first World Record Henglo, Holland, over the 5,000m race. Two months later, he broke his world record in the 5,000 meters and broke the 10,000-meter world record an astonishing 9 seconds.
Moreover, in 1997, Haile again broke his 5,000-meter record. In 1998, he also broke the World Records over the 2,000m and the 3,000m indoor races. Furthermore, Haile was not defeated in all of his competitions of 1999 and 2000. In his last world championship win, Haile earned a gold medal at Seville, in 1999, in a 10,000m race.
In 1996, Haile went to Atlanta to win his first Olympic gold medal in the men’s 10,000-meter race. He bravely defended his honor at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by beating his all-time rival Paul Tergat. Haile considers this summer Olympics as one of his career highlights.
Haile could not train properly for the 2004 Athens Olympics because of an injury. As a result, he did not win his third consecutive Olympic Gold medal. Instead, he handed out his title to his fellow country-man Kenenisa Bekele. Haile also participated in the 2008 Olympics and finished sixth in the 10,000 meters race. Later on, Haile retired from the track and focused on longer distances like road and marathon races. Haile had also participated in the 2008 Olympics and finished sixth over the 10,000 meters race.
In 2001, after turning to longer races, Haile won the IAAF half marathon, completed his first marathon in London in 2002, and finished in third place. Haile had also participated in the 2007 and 2008 Berlin Marathons. On the 2008 Berlin Marathon, Haile set a new world record by lowering his world record by 27 seconds. This record remained untouchable for three years. Even more, since Haile was in the age of 35, that mark stood as the Masters’ Age group until his country-man Kenenisa Bekele ran 2:01:41 at 37. Surprisingly, Haile won the Berlin Marathon four times consecutively. Besides, He had also won three straight races at the Dubai Marathon.
In addition to Berlin and Dubai Marathons, Haile Had also won Fukuoka Marathon. Besides, in the latter part of his career, Haile won the Vienna half-marathon at 39.
- Gold 2000 Sydney 10000 m
- Gold 1996 Atlanta 10000 m
- Gold 1999 Seville 10,000 m
- Gold 1997 Athens 10,000 m
- 1995 Gothenburg 10,000 m (Gold Medal)
- Gold 1993 Stuttgart 10,000 m
- Silver 2003 Paris 10,000 m
- Silver 1993 Stuttgart 5,000 m
- Bronze 2001 Edmonton 10,000 m
- Earned silver and bronze medals at the 1993 African Championships held in Durban
- Won a bronze medal at the 1994 World Cross Country Championship in Budapest
- Prince of Asturias Award for Sports
- AIMS Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Two times Track and Field News Athlete of the Year.
Sadly, on May 10, 2015, the sports lovers heard about the retirement of the legend runner Haile Gebrselassie. In his career, Haile has earned the AIMS World Athlete of the Year Award in three consecutive years; 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Haile Gebresilassie as Businessman
Aside from his running career, Haile is a successful businessman. He is even regarded as one of the wealthiest people in Ethiopia. Haile employs more than 2000 people in his different companies. Since 1995, Haile has been engaged in hospitality, entertainment, real estate, agriculture, and technology investments.
Haile imports and distributes Hyundai cars in the entire country in the technology firm. Moreover, Haile also runs a property development business constructing tall buildings in Addis Ababa. He also owns the Alem Building, one of the tallest buildings in Addis Ababa. Furthermore, Haile is engaged in coffee plantations providing flavorsome coffee to the world. In addition, Haile owns a cinema named after his wife.
When mentioning the hospitality industry, Haile owns these outstanding hotels and resorts in different Cities of Ethiopia:
- Arba Minch
- Shashemene Hotel
- Yaya Africa Athletics Village
Haile is happily married and has a family of his own. His spouse is known as Alem Tilahun, and he has five children.
Quick Facts About Haile Gebreselassie
Bio and Wiki of Haile Gebreselassie
- Full Name: Haile Gebrselassie (haylē gebre silassē)
- Name in native language: ኃይሌ ገብረ ሥላሴ (Amharic)
- Country: Ethiopia
- Birth Place: Asella province, Oromiya Region, Ethiopia
- Gender: male
- Sexual Orientation: Straight
- Nationality: Ethiopian
- Ethnicity: Black
- Religion: Christian
Haile Gebreselassie Birthday
- Date of birth: April 18, 1973
- Birthday: April 18
- Age: 48 years old
- Horoscope: Aries
Haile Gebreselassie Family
- Marital Status: Married
- Spouse: Alem Tilahun
- Children: Five
- Father’s Name: Gebreselassie Bekele
- Mother’s Name: Ayelech Degtu
- Siblings: Nine
Body Measurement of Haile Gebreselassie
- Bodyweight: 54 kg (119 lb)
- Height: 5’5″ (1.64 meters)
- Eye Color: Black
- Hair Color: Black
Carrer of Haile Gebreselassie
- Profession: Athlete
- Active from:1992-2015
- Records: 61 Ethiopian national records and 27 world records
- First Olympic Game: Atlanta Olympic, 1996
Net Worth and Income of Haile Gebreselassie
As of 2022, the estimated net worth of Haile Gebrselassie is considered to be $20 million.
Social Media Accounts of Haile Gebreselassie
Video of Haile Gebreselassie Running