MADRID, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — Ethiopian distance runner Haile Gebrselassie on Friday was awarded the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Sports.
During his career, the 38-year-old has won two Olympic gold medals in 10,000 meters, (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000) and has been crowned as world champion four times, while also winning two silver and one bronze medals.
Gebreselassie has also won four gold medals at varying distances at the world indoor championships and several marathons, including the Berlin Marathon on four separate occasions.
The jury for the Prince of Asturias Awards, explained that Gebreselassie is considered as the greatest distance runner of all time.
“Haile Gebrselassie is an extraordinary example of sacrifice and self-improvement who has been a leading figure among the sports elite for over two decades,” they comment on the Prince of Asturias Awards Website, before adding that it was not just his athletic achievements that had been taken into account in deciding on the award.
“His commitment to peace and understanding through sport and his humanitarian and social work in Ethiopia have made him an ethical role model for a whole generation of athletes worldwide,” commented the jury.
Gebreselassie was chosen ahead of several strong rivals, including former Spain and Real Madrid striker, Raul Gonzalez, who now plays for German side Schalke 04, and the successful Spanish women’s synchronized swimming side.
The 2010 Prince of Asturias Award was won by the Spanish national football team, who are the reigning world and European Champions.
The Prince of Asturias Awards are given every year in eight different fields, such as Concord, International Co-operation, Letters, Sports, Social Sciences, Technical and Scientific Research, Arts and Communication and Humanities.
The Awards, which include a cash prize and a statue designed by Spanish artist Joan Miro are officially presented in a ceremony in the Asturian city of Oviedo, in October.