Athletics: Gebrselassie confident of record-breaking feat in Manchester comeback

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The Independent Online

Haile Gebrselassie believes he can smash the United Kingdom all-comers' 10 kilometres record at the Bupa Great Manchester Run on Sunday.

Gebrselassie insists he is in perfect condition and if the early race pace is fast, he believes the current mark of 27minutes 39seconds set by Kenyan Felix Limo in Swansea three years ago is within his grasp.

The Ethiopian pulled out of last month's Flora London Marathon stating he was not fit enough to contest the event after recovering from an Achilles operation. But in the five weeks since, the world's greatest-ever distance runner, who has won two Olympic 10,000m gold medals and set 17 world records at varying distances, is now 100 per cent fit.

"I think if the weather holds and there is no wind, I can challenge that time," said Gebrselassie, holder of the world road-running record mark with a time of 27mins 02secs, set in Doha in December 2002.

Gebrselassie is not expecting an easy ride around the Manchester streets, hence his confidence that Limo's UK all-comers' performance and the course record of 27mins 54secs set last year by Australia's Craig Mottram can be bettered.

"It will be tough and that's why I think it will be fast from the start," said Gebrselassie, competing in his first race since winning a half marathon in Spain three months ago.

Stefano Baldini, Italy's Olympic marathon champion, is in the line-up along with fellow top European stars Sergiy Lebid of the Ukraine and the Spanish pair of Juan Carlos de la Ossa and Jose Manuel Martinez.

Chris Davies, the fastest Briton this year with a time of 29mins 07secs, is expected to return from injury to lead the domestic challenge. Charlotte Dale, who has a best of 32mins 13secs, leads the British women's challenge.

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