Oslo, NorwayFor the second straight year, the ExxonMobil Bislett Games - ÅF Golden League - played host to a new women’s 5000m World record. This time around, it was Tirunesh Dibaba smashing the record that her compatriot Meseret Defar smashed last year.
This is a very joyous day for me today,” said Dibaba after her stunning 14:11.15 * performance which eclipsed Defar’s performance by more than five-and-a-half seconds. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and this is a very special day for me.”
Special indeed. A day after sharing quiet confidence about her first outing of the summer, Dibaba was on a mission which she simply wouldn’t let slip from her grasp.
Brought through the 3000m mark in 8:38.38 by rookie pacesetter Anna Alminova, Dibaba found herself in the lead but three seconds off the record pace. With a little help from big sister Ejegayehu for about a lap-and-a-half, Dibaba found her rhythm by the time she approached the end of the fourth kilometre. By then she was a full second ahead of schedule, and simply needed to hang on. That, she said, wasn’t going to be a problem.
“I was trying my best and I knew I was going to break the record with two laps to go. I was sure,” she reiterated, “with two laps left.” Reeling off 68-second laps in the waning stages, she closed with a final circuit in just under 64 seconds to collect the first outdoor record of her career.
“The early part of the race was pretty good,” she said, “but at 3000m we were a little behind so then I had to catch up on the pace. I could have run faster if the pacing was a little better.”
She arrived in Oslo with a 14:30.40 career best set at this meeting two years ago, but had run faster indoors, most recently in 2007 with her 14:27.42 World record indoors. But like Defar last year, the margin left her nearly speechless. “I’m surprised that I broke it by that much,” she said. “Yes, very surprised. And I’m very happy.”
Her post-African Championships training left her with a good feeling about her early season form.
“After the African championships I prepared myself for more than one month, and it was a very hard preparation.” Not only her training, she said, but also some strong family support helped as well.
“The plan was there for (older sister) Gigi to help me, and she helped me quite a bit. And I want to thank her for that.”
She also thanked the near-capacity crowd at Bislett Stadium. “The people in Oslo were fantastic. They gave me a lot of support and a big boost. They were really part of the record tonight.”
After improving by some 19 seconds, could another barrier, 14 minutes, be breached?
“I don’t think that it’s possible for me,” she said, but after some pause and explanation, she didn’t dismiss the notion outright. “It could be possible, but today, everything was perfect. The weather was perfect, and I am in good shape. There are so many factors for me to run the World record. But I don’t know about going under 14 minutes.”
A reporter asked if she would be giving rival Defar a call now that she has secured the record. Smiling, she said, “I’m not going to call her. But I will meet her in Ethiopia.”
In the meantime, Ethiopia will be meeting her tonight for a little celebration. “The Ethiopian community in Oslo has called us for a party, so we’re going to be there.”
Next up for Dibaba is a 10,000m outing in Ostrava on Thursday, where she’ll start as the event’s two-time World champion. Again she won’t predict a time, but she’ll have to impress Ethiopian selectors with a solid performance to secure her spot on the Olympic team. After her performance here tonight, she said, she may be leaning towards an Olympic double.
“I’m thinking that this makes a strong case for me. I’m going to consider it very seriously.”
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
* pending the usual ratification procedures