With humble beginnings at the Police Athletic Club in 1988, this veteran, 43, retired from running after the Great Manchester Run in May 2015, having won two Olympic gold medal, eight world championship golds and having set 27 world records.He is now an international icon, and one of the most recognisable faces in Ethiopia. It is rare for any Ethiopian travellingoverseas to not be associated with GEBRESELLASIE – the way in which the international media addresses him. He certainly is an established brand. He is also bold enough to have turned that brand into business. The last of his local athletic engagements was his participation in his own brand open race, the Great Run Ethiopia,last November. He claims to be NEW – but Protects his holidays. We questioned him about his life now compared to 20 years ago:
Fortune: Key Priorities
HG: I grew up dreaming about earning an Olympic Gold medal, and 20 years back I got one, at the Atlanta Games.
Now, my priority is business. My coffee plantation, from which I recently collected the first yield, will remain my priority until I export from my own farm
Fortune: What Tickles the Taste Buds?
HG: It was Kitfo. I used to burn lots of calories, so this was important for me. Now, due to the issue of calorie burning, I still favour meat – but raw meat – Kurt
Fortune: Evolution of Earnings
HG: I was just runner then, with a single source of income, making about 200,000 Br on average in monthly income. Now I have diversified into hotels and resorts, my coffee plantation, honey farms and many more. All of this adds up to reach an average of approximately 10 million birr.
Fortune: Splashing Out on Fashion
HG: I was young and naïve and did not think through a lot of things. I just did what I liked.I bought a 1,000-dollar suit for my wedding. Now my upper limit is 300 dollars.
Fortune: Switching Off
HG: Leisure back then was all about movies- I used to watch movies tirelessly.
I no longer have a sense of leisure time – I don’t even have time to breathe properly. I’m always at work. So now, I’d say that my favourite times are spent strolling through my coffee plantation.
Fortune: Major Aspirations
HG:Twenty years back, my dream was having one building. I spent days and nights dwelling over that. The same energy is now channelled towardsreaching the heights of the likes ofMohamuod Al-Amoudi and Dangote.
Fortune: Perception of Death
HG: I hate death. I always pray, particularly before I realise my dreams. When it was about my sports, it was a prayer not to die before I had won an Olympic medal. Now, it is a prayer not to die before I take number one position from my competitors in every business endeavour I am involved in.
Fortune: In Your CD Collection
HG:Previously, I was into fast rhythm beat music, which went well with my fast athletics moves. Now, my taste is inclined towards cultural Ethiopian music.
Fortune: Your Inspiration
HG: I was inspired by the athlete Mirutse Yifter’s Olympic gains. Now, those African people who have made it in to the Forbes 100 list [the top ten wealthiest people in the world] inspire me.
Fortune: Tipping the Scales
HG: Twenty years have only resulted in 5 kilos difference. I was 53 kg and now I’m 58kg.
Fortune: Favourite Brands
I did my first run in Addis Ababa borrowing my brother’s Adidas shoes and also my shorts were Adidas. At this time, I fell in love with the brand for a long time, but no more
Talking about brands, if you want somebody to love you, first you have to love yourself for who you are. Where am going with this? I am fan of my own brand.
Fortune: Lost Passions
HG: Movies are really missed; I just do not have time.
Fortune: Celebrating Festivities
HG: That is the only thing that doesn’t change in my life and I have no plan to do so. I still plan to get up at 3pm to celebrate Easter with my family. During this holiday, my friends and family will come to my home. I celebrate in the same way as every Ethiopian would.
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