Sabrina Yohannes wrote this piece on the Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba and their upcoming battle on September 3 in Zurich Diamond League.
The battle for the World Champs 5,000 meters was one of the highlights of the recently ended World Champs!
Almaz Ayana and Diamond Race Leader Genzebe Dibaba Slated To Face Off in Zurich
By Sabrina Yohannes
In the world championships 5000m, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana delivered emphatically on the indications in her season that she could mount a viable challenge to her highly favored teammate Genzebe Dibaba particularly given the latter’s Beijing schedule.
The only thing that had appeared to give Dibaba pause when she discussed the 1500m-5000m double ahead of Beijing was the question of how she would feel about running heats and finals in two events, to which she’d replied, “I don’t know, it’s tough because of the number of rounds.”
Dibaba took gold in the Beijing 1500m and said after settling for bronze in the 5000m that her prolific schedule had resulted in a problem in her foot.
“In ten days, this is my fifth race,” she said, after finishing in 14:44.14 and narrowly losing silver to her teammate Senbere Teferi. “A month and two weeks ago, I ran 5000m much faster than this. I think this performance is the result of the injury.”
Dibaba ran a personal best 14:15.41 in the July 4 Paris Diamond League race which she won ahead of Ayana, after a world record attempt and plans to share the pacemaking fell apart mid-race. The 14:14.32 world leader Ayana served as a de facto pacemaker in Paris, which suggested that in a championship race with no such complications, she could do better.
And better Ayana did do in Beijing, taking control halfway and running away with over three laps to go to take gold in a championship record 14:26.83, a feat that earned her the fan-voted adidas and IAAF Performance of the Day nod.
The teammates displayed good sportsmanship towards one another after their race, Dibaba slapping palms with and hugging Ayana as soon as she crossed the line (at 2:20 of the race highlights video), and the women speaking well of one another.
“Both of the winners are my compatriots … and I’m very happy,” said Dibaba of the gold and silver medalists.
Ayana, who stated that she had felt leg pain during the race in Paris and it had played a role in her finish there, said of Dibaba, “I respect her greatly.”
Ethiopia took a clean sweep of the women’s 5000m at the 2005 worlds, led by Dibaba’s sister Tirunesh, and the new 2015 medalists who duplicated that feat on Sunday are all on the 3000m entry list of the September 3 Zurich Diamond League meet.
It is set to be Dibaba’s sixth race in 13 days, and Ayana and Teferi’s third in eight days, so none will have had much time to recover. By race end, Dibaba will have competed over a total distance of 17,500m against championship caliber fields.
Ayana and Teferi’s race load will be comparable to many of their Zurich competitors’, as 7 of the top 11 finishers in the Beijing final are scheduled to race in Switzerland, including Kenyans Viola Jelagat Kibiwot and Mercy Cherono, who placed fourth and fifth in Beijing.
Their compatriot, the former world 5000m and 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who reclaimed her title in the longer event in Beijing, is also in the Weltklasse Zurich field.
DIBABA POISED TO TAKE DIAMOND TROPHY
The Zurich race is the last women’s 3000m/5000m event in the 2015 Diamond League, and Dibaba leads the series standings with 12 points. Unless she fails to start the race or finishes off the podium in Zurich, she will win the Diamond trophy.
The final DL race in each event carries double the points of earlier races: 8 points for the win, 4 for second place and 2 for third place.
Ayana currently has 6 points and Cherono has 5. If either of them wins in Zurich — ending up with 14 or 13 points — that will secure the trophy only if Dibaba earns no points.
In the event that Ayana wins the race and Dibaba takes third, leaving both women with 14 points, Dibaba still wins the trophy, as the tie-breaker is the number of 2015 DL wins. To date, Dibaba has three — Eugene, Oslo and Paris — to Ayana’s one – Shanghai.
All other women in the field have 3 or fewer points so far and can’t reach Dibaba’s current 12, even in the event of an unexpected win in Zurich.
Cherono won the 5000m trophy last year, and Cheruiyot the first three years of the DL, 2010 through 2012. The only Ethiopian winner in the event to date is Meseret Defar, who took the trophy in 2013; and as long as she makes top three in Zurich on Thursday, Dibaba will be the next.