Tirunesh Dibaba claims 5000m gold for historic double

August 23, 2008

Dibaba’s double is a landmark for women runners and the first since male compatriot Miruts Yifter‘s feat over the same events at the 1980 Moscow Games.

“I am very happy,” said Dibaba. “I like Beijing very much. I will remember the Beijing Games forever because I won two gold medals here.

“It was quite slow out there. I tried to accelerate three laps before the finish.

“It’s a big achievement for me. When I came from my country, I didn’t think I’d win both titles. I just thought I’d be a good competitor in both events.”

Kenya’s world silver medallist  Vivian Cheruiyot  led the peloton out at an incredibly gentle pace, with Dibaba, Defar and compatriot Meselech Melkamu happy to sit back.

With nine laps to go, Abeylegesse took up the lead and increased the pace, followed by Defar and versatile Russian Guinara Galkina-Samitova, who set a world record to win the 3000m steeplechase on Sunday.

The Russian took the pack through the 3km mark at a pedestrian 9:58.13, shortly after which Defar was lucky to escape an out-an-out fall after being spiked from behind by Melkamu.

“Today was a bad day for me. Someone hit my right leg with four laps to go and it hurt,” admitted Defar.

“My leg muscles (contracted) and became a little tight. It influenced my speed and I was limping a little bit. Sometimes some things just happen. I’m not happy with the bronze.”

Dibaba moved to the front with three laps to go and the pace immediately picked up.

Abeyelegesse then bolted with the trio of Ethiopians snapping at her heels.

As was the case in the 10,000m, Dibaba waited for the bell to sound for the final lap before asserting her tactics of shooting off.

The Ethiopian promptly clocked a startling 59.54sec for the final 400m that killed off her rivals, Abeyelesse outsprinting Defar for second spot.

“I knew I could at least get a medal,” said Abeyelesse, who gained Turkish citizenship through marriage.

“Every athlete wants to strive for the gold. But only one of us can get it.

“Tirunesh Dibaba is a hard-working girl.”