23 November 2012 – Barcelona, Spain - Olympic 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba and 1992 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Elana Meyer appeared at the press point at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona. These were some of the highlights.
Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH)
You are best known for your many track successes but recently started to move to road racing. Do you plan to move more into road racing and the Marathon in future?
TD: I am not leaving the track and at the next World Championships I’ll run a 10,000m. I will try the Marathon, but I will not leave the track completely.
You have won many titles, but what is your opinion on having never won the IAF Athlete of the Year?
TD: I was hoping to win after taking the 5000m and 10,000m in Beijing and I went to Monaco confident I would be elected. I never understood how after winning two special gold medals that they selected somebody else.
Do you plan to run the marathon at the Rio Olympics?
TD: I don’t know, but if I am healthy I’ll try to run the Marathon.
You have suffered many injuries since 2008. Was London your greatest ever triumph?
TD: I was injured for the three years before London and I was not sure I was going to win in London. The Olympics is special for the Ethiopians, so everyone was expecting a good result. Even though I didn’t train a lot, I still won.
Is the World record 10,000m record of Wang Junxia a target?
TD: Before I got injured I was hoping and I had the belief I could beat that World record, but after my injury I don’t really think of breaking the record.
Elana Meyer (RSA)
Coming back to Barcelona it must be very special as you and Derartu Tulu shared one of the iconic moments of the Games. (Tulu became the first African woman to win Olympic gold with Meyer winning the silver medal in the 10,000m at the 1992 Games) Tell us about that moment?
EM: It is nice to be back. It is the first time I’ve been back since 1992. At that time it was a very emotional time in South Africa. It was two years prior to our elections. There was a lot of turbulence and not a lot of unity in the country. So coming to Barcelona was a rollercoaster ride. I was 25, at the peak of my career, so it was very special.
Are you still involved in athletics today?
EM: I retired in 2004 and I started to work with Jag Foundation in South Africa using sport as a means for engaging children in sport and physical activity. It is very grassroots. Next year I’ll move back to the performance side of the sport and start an endurance performance academy in South Africa. Traditionally South Africa had a wealth of talent in the distances but in the last few years it has declined a lot. I’m looking forward to making a contribution on the performance side.
What marks Tirunesh out as such a great athlete?
EM: She can run any way, she can run fast and also outkick anybody – she is the perfect distance athlete. Mentally she doesn’t get fazed. Unfortunately, injuries occur in the second half of your career you have to deal with that. She has managed to do that and she is definitely one of the finest athletes around.
Steve Landells for the IAAF