Tirunesh Dibaba, one of athletics’ most decorated individuals, added another World Championship gold to her growing list of accolades yesterday.
The 27-year-old decimated her opponents with her trademark last lap, taking victory with her 30.43.35 clocking.
America’s Shalane Flanagan took an early lead, stringing the field out over the first eight laps, before Hitomi Niiya of Japan took over for the subsequent 16 circuits.
Niiya’s gutsy front running was highly commendable, but the Kenyan’s and Ethiopian’s inevitably glided past the Japanese athlete heading into the final lap, leaving the long time leader evidently distraught.
Niiya’s tactics were understandable, but with an athlete of Dibaba’s calibre, it seemed victory was unavoidable, regardless of how the race was run.
Distance events can often get overlooked at major competitions, with the sprinters taking the limelight, but Dibaba is a track star in her own right, having achieved excellence at every major meet.
The men’s 10,000m, on the first day of action, was greeted by a fairly weak crowd, but Dibaba’s final saw a three quarter full stadium present, as the blue ribbon event, the men’s 100m, followed her final.
With all of the recent drugs revelations across the sport, many have said that track and field is hanging on by a thread, that thread being Usain Bolt. This is, of course, a fair statement, Bolt is a supreme athlete, and a fascinating showman, but the likes of Dibaba should not get overshadowed.
The Ethiopian has proved time and time again, on track, road and cross country, that she is undisputedly the greatest ever female distance runner. She might not have the world media presence of Bolt, but in her home country, she is an admired celebrity icon.
Dibaba has form in the 10,000m that not many athletes can boast – she has never been beaten at the distance, winning all of her 11 contests.
Her championship record speaks for itself, having racked up three Olympic gold medals, five World Championship golds and five World Cross Country golds. She is also the only female distance runner in history to complete a 5,000m and 10,000m double, at both Olympic and World level.
With the 5,000m world record to her name, the only title missing off her résumé is the fastest 10,000m time.
Dibaba hoped to double up in Moscow, as well as Meseret Defar, but the two were not allowed, forcing them to share the two distance events between them.