World Champion Genzebe Dibaba Contemplating 5000m-10,000m Rio Double, by Sabrina Yohannes


Updated April 22, 2016

We asked Sabrina Yohannes, a long time correspondent who frequently writes for us on Ethiopian Athletics, to check in with Genzebe Dibaba.

Here is her piece on Genzebe Dibaba contemplating the 5,000m and 10,000m double for 2016.

Dibaba_Genzebe-Worlds16.JPgGenzebe Dibaba winning World Indoor 3000m, March 2016, photo by

World Champion Genzebe Dibaba Contemplating 5000m-10,000m Rio Double

By Sabrina Yohannes

The 5000m indoor world record holder Genzebe Dibaba, who will make her 10,000m debut on Saturday in Dubai, has been contemplating racing over both distances at the Rio Olympics this summer.

"I have definitely decided on the 5000," the Ethiopian Dibaba told RunBlogRun in a recent interview. "But I'd like to not just run the 5000. I'd like to double."

Dibaba is also the 1500m indoor and outdoor world record-holder, as well as the reigning outdoor world champion, but she cited the Rio schedule as a factor in her hesitation over a 1500m-5000m double. The final of the 1500 and heat of the 5000 fall on the same day in August, some 13 hours apart.

"The 10,000 is on the first day," said Dibaba last month, explaining why she was eyeing the longer distance double. "The 5000 [heat] is four days later. But we'll see. I've never tried the 10,000m before. I'll race over 10,000m, and then it will be something that I decide after that."

Dibaba_GenzebeFL-Paris15.jpgGenzebe Dibaba, July 2016, AREVA Paris, photo by

The Rio 10,000m takes place on the morning of August 12. The 5000m heats are on August 16 and the final on August 19.

In her first global championships double attempt, Dibaba took 1500m gold and 5000m bronze behind her compatriots Almaz Ayana and Senbere Teferi at the 2015 Beijing outdoor worlds.

Dibaba was disappointed about not running a similar middle and long distance double at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland in March.

"I was going to double, but there was a 3000m heat scheduled and on the schedule, there was just a six-hour gap between two races," said Dibaba, who would have had to race heats in both distances on the same day according to the initial Portland 2016 schedule. "That's why I changed my mind about doubling."

In the 3000m, the heats were eventually canceled and there was only a straight final on March 20, which Dibaba won ahead of teammate and former champion Meseret Defar and 1500m former world outdoor medalist Shannon Rowbury of the USA. The 1500m final was a day earlier and was won by Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands in 4:04.96, with Ethiopians Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegaye taking silver and bronze.

"I'm very disappointed because I'd figured that I could have been a double medalist," said Dibaba, whose Ethiopian team slot in the shorter distance had been given away when she pulled out of the event. "I guess God didn't will it. But it would have been easy to take two medals. If I had known there would be no 3000m heat, I would have run both."

Fresh off a 4:13.31 world indoor record for the mile run on February 17, Dibaba clinched the Portland 3000m victory easily in 8:47.43. "I ran the final 2000m alone," said Dibaba, the 8:16.60 world indoor record-holder for the distance. "I was in better shape than ever before. I'm very pleased to be a world indoor champion for the third time."

She previously won gold in the 1500m in 2012 and the 3000m in 2014.

She has not yet medaled at the Olympics, though, and will be looking to remedy that this year. Four years ago in London she was injured in the 1500m heats and was carried off the track.

Her sister Tirunesh was the first woman to win the 5000 and 10,000m at the same Olympics, which she did in Beijing in 2008.

Despite her not having yet run the 10,000m, the extent of Genzebe's aspirations regarding the same double came across when, asked in Portland by reporter Helena Rebello of Brazil's Globo Esporte to speak briefly on camera and introduce herself in a clip that would air in the Rio lead-up, Dibaba chose to say, "My name is Genzebe Dibaba. I am a 5000m and 10,000m runner. See you in Rio in August!"

Her first step towards that potential double, her maiden 10,000m race, takes place at the President's Cup event at the Dubai Police Officers Club Saturday evening Dubai time. Dibaba's personal best at half the distance outdoors is 14:15.41, the fourth-fastest time ever, which she ran last July; while her indoor world record is 14:18.86, clocked in February 2015.

On April 22, Coach Jama Aden, the coach of Genzebe Dibaba, told Sport 360 that Dibaba had withdrawn from the 10,000m race on April 23, due to an injury of her right foot.

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