The former Olympic and World Champion couldn't beat fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba in Beijing. Defar settled for a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters in the 2008 Olympics, then earned another 5,000-meter bronze at the 2009 World Championships. Defar was a standout at the 2009 World Athletics Final, however, winning at 5,000 meters for the third time and earning her sixth consecutive WAF triumph in the 3,000 meters.
Children’s causes are important to Defar, who is a major supporter of the Abebe Bikila Project, a children’s running group in Ethiopia. She collects old and new athletic equipment around the world for donation to the group. Defar and her husband, Tewodros Hailu, have adopted two young children and also pay for the medical expenses of another child who is a victim of a heart disease.
Defar broke her own 5,000-meter world record in 2007, winning the Oslo Grand Prix in 14:16.63, only to see Dibaba set a new mark of 14:11.15 in 2008. Defar also owns the indoor and outdoor two-mile records, although the IAAF doesn’t recognize world marks at that distance.
The 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Defar also won the 2007 World Outdoor Championship at 5,000 meters as well as three consecutive World Indoor titles, from 2002-06, in the 3,000 meters.
- Height: 5-1
- Weight: 93
- Birth date: November 19, 1983
- Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- World Championships: Four
- Personal best: 8:23.72 (3,000, indoor); 14:12.88 (5,000, outdoor); 29:59.20 (10,000)