9 Nov 2010

International Wire Story.

6:41 pm on 9 November 2010

The head of athletics' world governing body has hailed the retired Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie as a sporting hero and genius.

The IAAF president Lamine Diack says it's virtually impossible to overstate Gebrselassie's stature as an athletics superstar and he was greatly saddened to hear of his sudden retirement due to injury.

Diack says as well as being as one of the all-time greats Gebrselassie is more than a sporting icon for millions around the world because of his generosity and dignity.

The 37-year-old pulled out about halfway through his first New York marathon with a knee injury.

He won 10,000m gold at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and won four consecutive world titles at the distance

Gebrselassie was equally impressive on the roads and still holds the marathon world record he set in Berlin in 2008.