Tirunesh Dibaba first came on the scene in 2003 in Saint Denis, France. I remember watching the 18 year old decimate a fine field in the 5000 meters and take gold. She made her agent, Mark Wetmore smile with that one!
The “baby faced destroyer” as some called her, became one of the finest distance runners in our sport’s history. Her racing style was complete: she was extremely fit, extremely gifted with a relaxed stride and could turn on a finish that, from 2004 to 2013, was unmatched.
Tirunesh Dibaba holds WR at 5000m (14:11.15), and previously held nearly every indoor record in books (2 miles, 3000m, 5000m), as well as winning 10,000m in 2005 Heslinki, 2007 Osaka, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London. Over the 5,000 meters, Tirunesh won titles in 2003 Paris, bronze in 2004 Athens, gold in 2005 Helsinki, gold in Beijing 2008, bronze in London 2012. Top that off, in her debut marathon, in 2014, Tirunesh Dibaba ran 2:20:35, and might have won, if she had not dawdled for a drink late in the race.
Why am I impressed in the 10,000m in Rio? Because of the strong PB so long into her career, and the toughness she showed, taking on Alice Nawowuna, the young, talented Kenyan, in fighting for the bronze medal, Tirunesh Dibaba shows that she has talents that time has not diminished.
Tirunesh Dibaba takes bronze in PB in 10,000m!
Tirunesh Dibaba has had an amazing year! In May, at the Great Run Manchester, Tirunesh had her first win since 2013, and ran 31:16. About six weeks later, Tirunesh ran 30:24, finishing third in a race where ninth was 30:54! Dibaba is the most decorated women over 10,000m, having won in Helsinki 2005 (30:24.02), Osaka 2007 (31:55.41), Beijing 2008 (29:54.66), London 2012 (30:20.75) and Moscow 2013 (30:43.35).
After her the birth of her baby, in 2015, Tirunesh Dibaba built her base back up and started racing in the spring of 2016. Those muscle memories do not die, and Tirunesh trained hard and willed herself into fitness.
The women’s 10,000m final was the finest race, depth wise, in women’s championship history. Almaz Ayana and Vivian Cheruiyot battled mightily, with Ayana winning by fifteen seconds. In the battle for the bronze, Tirunesh Dibaba was supreme.
Tirunesh Dibaba, using her skills and speed, caught a fading Alice Aprot Nawawona, and took the bronze medal, 29:42.56 to 29:53.51. In the medal ceremony, one could see the big smile on Tirunesh Dibaba’s face. Of course, Tirunesh would have wanted to win, but her performance was excellent and her return to form in such a short time shows her desire and her ability to race at the finest levels.
In a 10,000 meters where eight women were running sub 30 minutes through 5000 meters, Tirunesh Dibaba kept her cool. Sensing her time, Tirunesh went by Alice Nawowuma with the precision of a surgeon. She had to wear her out first, though, as Alice Nawowuma is a talented young athlete. But, it was that finely tuned muscle memory, and those finely tuned racing skills that put Tirunesh Dibaba over the top and running a PB after several years!
I, for one, am looking into the next chapter of Tirunesh Dibaba’s storied career.