LONDON // The man who was the driving force behind bringing Haile Gebrselassie to compete in the Dubai Marathon for three years in succession hopes to attract Mo Farah, Great Britain's 10,000 metre gold medallist, to race in the city next.
Interest in the annual race in Dubai boomed in the three years in which Gebrselassie attended. He won all three in which he competed, but missed out on the substantial financial bonus on offer for breaking the marathon record around the streets of the city.
Since the great Ethiopian retired, the organisers have been searching for ways of growing the event further.
Ahmed Al Kamali, the president of the UAE Athletics Federation, was part of the official delegation who presented Farah with his gold medal in front of 80,000 adoring spectators at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday morning.
He says the idea of bringing the highly popular British Olympian to compete in the 10km race which runs alongside the marathon is one he hopes will come to pass.
"I am in touch with him as a person and we will see," said Al Kamali, who is general race coordinator of the marathon.
"We cannot say anything now because it is immediately after the Olympics, but why not? We wish for him to run at some time in Dubai."
Al Kamali, a former distance runner for the UAE, says he was proud to be given the chance to be part of the medal presentation of one of the home crowd's most loved competitors.
"I was very happy to be a part of the ceremony for such a strong athlete as him," he said. "I think he has developed very fast in the past five years, especially after [the 2008 Beijing Olympics].
"He ran a fantastic race. He was always around number six or seven during the run, then pushed at exactly the right time."
Dubai Marathon; registration for the 2013 event, scheduled for January 25 at downtown Dubai, has begun. Categories include 42, 10 and three kilometre courses. Entry fees are US$120 (Dh440.76), $60 (Dh220.38) and $15 (Dh55.09). Go to www.dubaimarathon.org for information.
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