Two-time Olympic 10,000 Champion Tirunesh Dibaba Confirmed and Prepared for London 5000

Tirunesh Dibaba pictured after wining the gold medal in the women's final 10,000 meter race at the London Olympic Games on Friday, August 3rd, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
Running | London 2012

By Sabrina Yohannes

London (TADIAS) – Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia will run the first round of the 5000 meters at the 2012 Olympics on Tuesday just four days after defending her Beijing Olympic 10,000m crown in spectacular fashion in London.

“I’m very happy, this is my third gold,” said Dibaba Friday night after winning the 10,000 in 30 minutes 20.75 seconds ahead of Kenyans Sally Kipyego and Vivian Cheruiyot. “I’m ready to run the 5000, the decision is the federation’s.”

The Ethiopian athletic federation needed little persuasion. “She will run, 100%,” said the organization’s technical director, Dube Jilo.

The first woman to win the two events at one Olympiad when she accomplished the feat in 2008, Dibaba had been entered in the shorter event in London as a reserve, due to her having the fourth-fastest time for the distance this year among her compatriots. But with the federation also observing the fitness of the selected athletes during training, her potential double attempt had been anticipated.

Jilo praised the dominant fashion of her 10,000 victory. “To come from having being out with injury for two whole years and achieve this is a great accomplishment for her, and for us and for our country,” he said.

Dibaba returned to competition on New Year’s Eve after having suffered from injuries that kept her out of both the 2009 and 2011 world championships.

In the interim, she successfully defended her 2008 African 10,000m title in July 2010 in Nairobi defeating, among others, the hometown favorite Linet Masai, who had won the 2009 world championships race in the absence of Dibaba, then the defending world champion. The Ethiopian had also won both distance races at the 2005 world championships.

The 2009 world 5000 title went to Cheruiyot, who completed the double in Daegu in 2011, and coming into the London 10,000, the Kenyan was a favorite along with Dibaba.

“I wasn’t thinking about any individual athlete, I was thinking only about winning,” said Dibaba after her second straight Olympic 10,000m victory.

Prior to London, the Athens 5000m bronze medalist Dibaba had elaborated on her thoughts about Cheruiyot in an interview.

“Vivian has become much stronger than in the past,” she said. The two women did not race during the Kenyan’s red-hot 2011 season due to Dibaba’s injury layoff, but the Ethiopian pointed out that she had previously run against a rising Vivian Cheruiyot — and won.

“We raced in London,” said Dibaba, who won the 5000m in 14 minutes, 36.41 seconds to Cheruiyot’s 14:38.17 at the Crystal Palace on August 13, 2010, in addition to finishing ahead of the Kenyan at the world athletic final in Thessaloniki, Greece in September 2009. “She had just won the world championships 5000 when we raced. She was strong then too and she’s strong now.”

“We’ve run indoors as well as outdoors,” added Dibaba, who won the Edinburgh cross country and Birmingham indoor two-mile races in early 2010, over eight seconds ahead of Cheruiyot both times.

“I know Dibaba is a tough lady,” said Cheruiyot Friday night. “We are coming here to try our best because there is a time for everybody.”

“I’ve watched her race so many times and she can run really well, and she can close really well, and I respected that,” Kipyego, who took the lead at times in the race, said of Dibaba. “I tried to push the pace to try to make it painful for everybody. Unfortunately, it didn’t work on her.”

The three women will meet again in the 5000m in London, as both Cheruiyot and Kipyego are also doubling. That race will also include Dibaba’s teammate and rival Meseret Defar, the 2004 Olympic champion, whom Dibaba defeated over the distance in New York in June.

The Ethiopian women’s team entered in London comprised the nation’s three fastest 5000 runners of the year: Defar, former world indoor 1500 champion Gelete Burka and Genet Yalew. The event’s world record-holder Dibaba will replace the less experienced Yalew in the team.

“I will take a bit of a rest tomorrow and then I will prepare for the 5000 heats,” said Dibaba Friday. “I know I’ve trained well.”

The elimination round of the women’s 5000 takes place 10:55am on Tuesday morning, with the final set for 8:05pm Friday, August 10.

Sabrina Yohannes is reporting from London.


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