World 1500m Record Holder Genzebe Dibaba: “I Can Run Faster”
By Sabrina Yohannes
World indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia chased the 14:11.15 world 5000m record on a few occasions this summer, including with her compatriot Almaz Ayana on July 4 in Paris, where Dibaba won in 14:15.41, the fourth-quickest time ever.
Nine days after clocking 3:54.11 — the fastest time that had been run in 18 years — for 1500m in Barcelona, the former world cross country junior champion Dibaba smashed the 3:50.46 1993 world record at the Monaco Diamond League on July 17, running 3:50.07.
The Continental Cup 3000m champion Dibaba spoke to RunBlogRun after the Monaco Herculis meet about her new record and preparing for the Beijing IAAF world championships.
Her 1500m races caused Dibaba, who had targeted 5000m gold in Beijing, to eye a 1500m-5000m double attempt there. She subsequently confirmed her decision to double and her national federation, which initially announced her entry in the longer event, entered her in both events.
The Beijing 5000m favorites are Dibaba and the world bronze medalist Ayana, who ran a world-leading 14:14.32 in Shanghai in May, and in 2014 defeated Dibaba at the African championships 5000m in Marrakesh. The Ethiopian 5000m squad will include reigning world and Olympic champion Meseret Defar, who is returning from maternity leave and has not raced since 2013.
Dibaba, the fastest woman ever over 1500m, 3000m, two miles and 5000m indoors, would be favored in the Beijing 1500m as well.
Ethiopia’s announced 1500m team roster includes world junior champion and Continental Cup bronze medalist Dawit Seyaum, who was not in Monaco but ran 3:59.76 for third in Rome and won at the Doha DL. She is the only other Ethiopian woman to have run under 4:00 this season.
The two elimination rounds and final of the 1500m will take place August 22, 23 and 25, and the heats and final of the 5000m on August 27 and 30.
The former world junior 5000m champion Dibaba is poised to climb the podium at a senior outdoor world championships for the first time in Beijing, a little more than a month after her record-breaking feat in Monaco.
RunBlogRun: How do you feel about having broken the 1500m record?
Genzebe Dibaba: I was very happy. Prior to this, I only had indoor world records, including in the 1500; and the [outdoor] 1500 is a very tough record. I can hardly believe it.
When did you know you could do it?
Genzebe Dibaba: When I was training for the 5000m record [attempt in Paris], I did six repeats of 800m and I did the last one in 1:58. I did the earlier ones in 2:02, 2:03, 2:04, and so on, but the last one in 1:58. I knew then that I could run fast; and after that, the Barcelona race was arranged for me and I ran 3:54. I felt very good. The pacemaker didn’t take me all the way through 800m. I knew that with better pacemaking arranged, I could run faster.
How did you feel about the pacemaking in Monaco [performed by American world indoor 800m champion Chanelle Price, who ran 1:00.31 for 400m and 2:04.52 for 800m]?
Genzebe Dibaba: She went as far as requested, 800m in 2:04. The pace was very easy for me. I felt inside of me that I could run faster. She ran very well. She did what was asked, which was about 2:04, I think.
How much faster do you think you can run 1500m?
Genzebe Dibaba: I can’t predict a specific time, because it’s a tough goal. After this, the focus is world championships preparation; the window for running other races is closed [for most Beijing-bound Ethiopians]. I don’t know if I will have an opportunity, but I can run faster.
What were you thinking during the race?
Genzebe Dibaba: I was watching the clocks. There were clocks in two or three places. When I had 200m left, I knew I was inside the record. But the last 50m, I felt the fatigue, and my stride felt a bit unsteady, but God be praised, I managed to do it.
So you are thinking of doubling in Beijing?
Genzebe Dibaba: This was the race I wanted to base a decision on. I’d like to do it.
So far this year, I wasn’t preparing for the 1500; all my preparation was for the 5000. Now, I would like to run the double; I have the fitness.
What do you think about all the elimination rounds you’ll have to run for the 1500 and the 5000, which would mean running five races in total?
Genzebe Dibaba: You’re right, there are three rounds in the 1500 and two in the 5000. I don’t know, it’s tough because of the number of rounds.
[Note: At the time of the interview, Dibaba also said in answer to the above two questions that she would study the Beijing schedule and discuss doubling with her coach before finalizing her decision to double, which she has since done.]
How have you felt about the rounds when you’ve contested the 1500m before?
Genzebe Dibaba: The competitions may have been tough, but I was never in this shape when doing them.
The 5000m world record attempt in Paris with Almaz Ayana wasn’t as successful.
Genzebe Dibaba: Since we were both chasing it, we were not able to do it. But maybe another time.
You had difficulties training in Addis Ababa in wet weather and muddy conditions during the [June-September] rainy season, and you stayed in Europe for three months last year. How long have you been there so far this year?
Genzebe Dibaba: I’ve been in Barcelona about a month and two weeks. Before that, it wasn’t raining yet in Addis Ababa. I’ll continue to stay here.
Won’t you be required to return to Ethiopia for team training before the world championships?
Genzebe Dibaba: I’ve requested permission. I had permission to do that last year too, before the African championships. I’ve been given permission this time as well.
So what was going through your mind at the finish of the [Monaco] 1500m?
Genzebe Dibaba: No one from Ethiopia has held a world record in the shorter distances before, so I felt very good about that, and also because it’s a record from many years ago. It’s not just me, but all of my country and all of Africa that will be happy. We’re known for the 5000 and 10,000m, and the whole country will be pleased with this.