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Gebrselassie Rethinks Beijing Plan

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Haile Gebrselassie, the marathon world record-holder, may change his mind and run the event at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Ethiopian's manager, Jos Hermens, yesterday confirmed that the two-times Olympic 10,000m gold medallist has been consulting scientists about his fears of pollution in the Chinese capital triggering off an asthma attack.

Gebrselassie revealed last month that he intended to compete in the 10,000m instead of the marathon in Beijing because of the smog. He will take part in a race over 10,000m in Hengelo, in the Netherlands, at the end of next month and his performance there could determine the nature of his participation at the Games.

"Who knows?" said Hermens. "If he does not make it [the Ethiopia team] at the 10k, you might see him in the marathon. He really wants to be at the Olympics. We are talking to scientists all the time about the breathing problems."

The calls are growing for him to compete over 26.2 miles. Gebrselassie, 35 this coming Friday, watched on television as the Kenyan Martin Lel won the London Marathon on Sunday in a course-record 2hr 5min 15sec and, had the weather not worsened, the Ethiopian's world record of 2:04:26 - set in Berlin last September - would have been under threat. Hermens said: "Afterwards he was all geed up. He wants to put the record beyond the others as he can see they are getting closer."

Lel, who has now won the London race three times in the last four years but has never run a championship marathon, would enjoy competing against Gebrselassie in Beijing. "I need him to be there for the chance to race against him," said Lel. "Conditions do not matter because it will be the same for everyone."

Germany's Irina Mikitenko, who won the women's event on her London debut, yesterday looked beyond the Olympics to a fast race against Paula Radcliffe, Britain's world record-holder, in 12 months' time. "The Olympics will not be a quick race but next year's London Marathon will be and it will be the chance for me to experiment running a fast one," she said. "I am looking forward to racing against Paula."

David Bedford, the London Marathon race director, shook hands on Radcliffe's return on Sunday when, by 11.45am, a staggering 65,000 UK applications for a place in the 2009 race had been received.

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