Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie last night paid glowing tribute to the late president Daniel arap Moi, saying Kenya was lucky to have him as Head of State due to his love for sports.
The multiple world and Olympic distance running champion and record holder who has spent two-day visit in Kenya to meet athletes contracted to his lifetime kit sponsors, Adidas, spoke to Nation Sport in Iten this week.
Haile, 46, said he learnt of Moi’s death as he prepared to leave Ethiopia for Kenya. “I heard about the passing away of Moi and I was saddened because he was one of the great leaders in Africa. I want to send my condolences to the late president’s family and pray to God that He gives them strength in this trying moment,” said Haile.
The retired athlete said although he never met Moi personally, he will try to emulate him.
“Africa has lost an icon, but Kenyans are very happy because he did a lot for them. He loved sports and at one time I was able to see him from far when he came to Addis Ababa for a meeting,” added the legend.
Haile said he regrets not coming to Iten to train because “It has the best climate to train in”.
“I’m not talking about facilities, but I’m saying the town has what an athlete needs to perform well in various competitions across the world,” he said.
He also urged the government to invest in the town because it has attracted a lot of athletes from across the globe and good facilities are necessary.
“The government of Kenya should think of investing in Iten by building good hotels because in my tour, I was able to see many foreigners who have come to the country to train. These athletes come to Africa because it’s cold in their countries at this time of the year,” he said.
He also hailed World Athletics for introducing the World Athletics Continental Tour, which begins in Nairobi on May 2, turning it a good move as Africa prepares to host big world events.