As part of our tribute to Genzebe Dibaba, here is Alex Mills wonderful piece on the magic of her race, and the night in Monaco!
Look up fearless in the dictionary and you’ll probably find Genzebe Dibaba, look up Genzebe Dibaba and you’ll definitely find an outdoor world record holder. For last night in the space of 3:50.07 minutes, the bridesmaid of track and field finally became the bride.
In the warm Monaco sun, the 24 year-old lit up the famous Stade Louis II like no other distance star has ever done before. Breaking the boundaries that have existed since she was two years old, the Ethiopian finally added an outdoor world record to her three indoor records of 2014 by producing a performance of raw exuberance and steel.
Fresh from seeing her male counterparts run one of the best 1500m races in history an hour earlier, the new queen of distance running lived up to her own pre-race expectation by producing a perfectly judged performance.
After tracking the wonderful pace setting of Chanelle Price to a point, first through 400m in 1:00.31 and then 800m in 2:04.52, Dibaba was left to push herself home, aided by the presence of Siffan Hassan right on her shoulder. As they came through the bell in 2:50.3 it looked like a genuine two way battle, but the double world indoor champion kicked hard.
By the time she drove down the home strait with the victory confirmed, only her finishing time mattered. Charging for the line, the crowd rose to their feet, roaring her home, but had she done enough? Crossing it with 3:50.07 on the clock, Dibaba threw her hands in the air, she had become the fastest 1500m runner in history.
“The pacemaker did a great job,” she said post-race. “I’m the first athlete from Ethiopia to break the world record in the 1500m; that is amazing.”
“I think Tirunesh will be happy, all of Ethiopia will be happy,” she added of her older sister, the olympic champion who holds the 5000m WR. “I knew from the beginning that I could break the record and I feel like I can still improve. I’ll try to break the 5000m world record after the World Championships in Beijing.”
It had been a long time coming but Tirunesh’s decibel finally joined the exclusive club and not in the expected event either. After numerous attempts at her sister’s 5K best, it was in her first serious 1500m of the season that things clicked. Although she insisted that she did not know a lot about the circumstances to which the former record stood, it will have undoubtably been a time that before this season seemed well out of reach for even her.
Yet in 2015, it seems in Dibaba we have seen a different beast on the track, making anything possible. Not content with just beating her rivals, this is an athlete on a war path for records, ready to give it everything she’s got each time.
It’s quite clear she’s not ready to stop here either. Moments after her victory she announced her aspirations to now add her sister’s record to her resume: “I’ve been dreaming for world records since the beginning, I would like to hold both the 1500m and the 5000m.” she said
It may get lost in the brilliance of the main achievement but what made this race so special were the back stories that supplemented the WR so beautifully. Be it Hassan’s personal best, Shannon Rowbury’s American record or Laura Muir’s first sub-four time, there were athletes finishing as low as fifth that celebrated their personal victories as if they had been genuine ones.
They like us all, will all now be waiting out to see whether Dibaba will elect to double up in Beijing, knowing that their chances of a world gold hang in the balance of her decision. Whatever effect the outcome of her decision may have in China, I’m sure they will undoubtably be delighted to have been involved in the greatest spectacle of middle distance running this century and grateful to the new WR holder for making it happen.