“That was a nice race for me, because it was easy. I was fully in control throughout the final and really only had to race properly for the final two laps,” said Meseret Defar after taking the 3000 m gold in style in Valencia.
Clocking 8:38.79, she was well clear of Meselech Melkamu, who made it an Ethiopian double with 8:41.50. It was Meseret Defar’s third consecutive gold medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
And that at just 24 years of age.
Only one other woman has ever achieved a hat trick at this distance in these championships: Romania’s Gabriela Szabo had won this title between 1995 and 1999. Additionally Szabo was second in 2001. So there is one more to go to another unique achievement for Meseret Defar.
African Championships focus
But first there are other priorities for this year. And it is not only Beijing that is on the list. At the end of April the African Championships will be a home game for Defar as they will be held in Addis Ababa.
“It is the first time that this event is staged in Ethiopia. So that is very important for me as well,” said Meseret Defar.
She has already decided which distance she will run: the 5000 metres. “When I will come back from Valencia I will start preparing for the African Championships.”
Defar also said that she has decided that 5000m will also be the distance she will contest in Beijing. This is the distance at which she had won the Olympic gold in Athens in 2004. “I will definitely not double this season – neither in Addis Ababa nor in Beijing.”
Asked about her fiercest rival in recent years, Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar said: “I don’t know about her plans regarding Beijing. If she should go for the double and run the 5000 metres I will have no problem with that.”
Asked if she would need even more speed on the last lap to win in Beijing, Defar said: “Naturally I want to run very fast in Beijing and will train hard for that. But on the other hand you never know what will happen on the final lap.”
Golden League also on programme
“Of course Beijing is the big one this year. But I will also run races of the AF Golden League this summer as part of the built up to the Olympic Games.”
In Valencia Defar wore a white bracelet which she showed after the press conference. “This is in support of Ethiopian children,” she said.
Having broken one World record in 2006 and another four in 2007 (among them two World bests at two miles) Defar continued with this collection this winter. She ran 9:10.50 at the Boston indoor meeting, setting yet another two miles World best.
She then missed improving her own 3000m World record in Stuttgart, but hoped to attack it again in Brimingham.
“But I could not run there because of food poisoning,” Defar revealed in Valencia. ”I normally eat only fresh food at home. But one day I went to a restaurant in Addis Ababa. It was similar to Chinese style. Then I became ill. I tried to train but I could not run for eight days.”
Last summer Defar had also talked about a possible chase for the 10,000m World record this summer. But she was much more reserved on that project after her Valencia win.
“I cannot say at the moment if that will become a goal during the summer. I will decide with my coach some time after I am back from Valencia.”
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF