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Tirunesh Dibaba: World Champ Gains Distance Double

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Tirunesh Dibaba: World Champ Gains Distance Double

Tirunesh Dibaba

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
In the brief history of women’s Olympic distance running (the 10,000 was introduced in 1988; the 5,000 replaced the 3,000 in 1996) no woman won gold medals in both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter Olympic events. Until 2008, that is, when Tirunesh Dibaba won both distance events, setting an Olympic record of 29:54.66 in the 10K. A late-2008 injury cost Dibaba much of the 2009 season, although she did take second place in the 5,000 at the World Athletics Final.

5,000 record:

Dibaba finished strong to set a world 5,000-meter record of 14:11.15 during an IAAF meet in Oslo, Norway on June 6, 2008. Taking aim at the mark, the Ethiopian followed the pacesetter through 3,000 meters in 8:38.38, three seconds behind the record pace. Dibaba's sister Ejegayehu helped pace Tirunesh for about the next 600 meters. Tirunesh (who also owns the indoor 5,000 world record of 14:27.42) then ran the final lap in just under 1:04.

Good genes:

Ejegayehu Dibaba earned a silver medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2004 Olympics while the Dibabas’ cousin, Derartu Tulu, took the bronze. Tulu had already won gold medals in the 10,000 at the 1992 and 2000 Olympics. The Dibabas’ younger brother, Dejene, is a promising 800-meter runner.

Career highlights:

Dibaba earned a bronze medal in the 5,000 at the 2004 Athens Games. She was four-for-four in the World Outdoor Championships from 2003-07, winning the 5,000 twice (2003-05) and the 10,000 twice (2005-07). She’s won four World Cross Country Championships (short course, 2005; long course, 2005-06; senior race, 2008).

The stats:

  • Height: 5-3
  • Weight: 104
  • Birth date: June 1, 1985
  • Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • World Championships: Four
  • Personal best: 8:29.55 (3,000); 14:11.15 (5,000); 29:54.66 (10,000).

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