Meseret Defar is one of the most amazing women distance runners in our sport. Her return to form, at the New Balance Indoor GP means that track fans get to see a real battle in the 3000 meters this coming weekend.
I was fortunate to spend a few mintues with Meseret and her husband. Her English is quiet and confident, but Meseret made it clear how happy she was with her 8:30 in Boston on February 14, and that she would be ready a month later.
Sabrina Yohannes caught up with Meseret right after her 3000 meters in Boston and wrote this piece for us.
Portland is the site of a special event for former world champion Meseret Defar
By Sabrina Yohannes
Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar is a former 3000m indoor gold medalist, but this year’s World Indoor Championships are being held in a city where an even more momentous event in her life took place.
The Ethiopian Defar has won four world indoor titles and she returns to the biennial event this week after skipping it in 2014, when she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Gabriela.
“She was born in Portland, Oregon,” Defar told RunBlogRun last month. “I have family members there.”
In an interview following her 3000m win at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on February 14, the petite Defar said she had been advised to seek good medical attention for childbirth owing to her slight frame.
“I chose to come to the U.S. for the medical care and to have a safe delivery; and because I needed good medical care in order to return to running,” said Defar, who also has two adopted adolescent daughters.
“After giving birth on June 22, I began training exactly three months and 10 days later,” she said.
She attempted to return to competition in the 2015 indoor season.
“This time last year, I was still getting back into training and I had also gained some weight,” she said. “I was not in any way ready for the indoors.” She added that she subsequently sustained a calf and lower back injury in the outdoor season.
“The main issue was that I started hard training before losing the weight,” she said, describing her normal race weight as being 43 to 43.5kg (95 to 96lbs.) during the indoor season and about a kilo (2.2lbs) less in the outdoor championship season. “But last year, I still had about 6 to 7 additional kilos (13 to 15lbs.) while training,” she said.
She ultimately ran a 15K road race in the Netherlands in December, winning in 50:04. “I wanted to get back into the rhythm, and I ran 49 to 50 minutes, like I wanted,” she said. “I was very, very happy.”
Defar was also pleased with her first – and only — track competition after giving birth, the Boston 3000m in which she won ahead of American Abbey D’Agostino.
“I had trained well, but because I’d been away from competition for a long time, I didn’t know what I could do,” said Defar, who wanted, if possible, to attack her own 8:30.05 meet record. “The pacemaking was great. I was afraid to push too hard because I didn’t know if I might find myself unable to hold on at the end. So I didn’t want to push earlier on, but I did at the end, and I narrowly missed the record.”
Defar’s 8:30.83 win may have fallen short of the meet record she ran 11 years ago, but as Ethiopian team selections are based on fast times, she knew she had essentially clinched one of two Portland 2016 slots with that clocking. Indeed, only defending world champion and world record holder Genzebe Dibaba subsequently ran a faster time, 8:22.50, after having erased Defar’s 2007 world record of 8:23.72 with an 8:16.60 in 2014.
Defar had come to Boston prepared to race again a few days later in search of an even faster time if need be, but instead she marked her successful return to track racing by giving herself a nice Valentine’s Day gift of a promptly sealed berth to her seventh world indoors.
Defar took bronze in 2003 and silver in 2012 in addition to her four golds from 2004 to 2010.
“To go again means a lot to me,” she said, adding that she would spend the next month, mid-February to mid-March, preparing for her return to championship racing — and hoping for more good things in the Oregonian city.