When Tirunesh Dibaba ran 14:32.93 for 5000m at last year's Reebok Boston Indoor Games, trimming over six seconds from the World indoor record in the process, it was only her third-ever race on an indoor track. The diminutive Ethiopian had been so overlooked, she was unsure if she would be selected for Ethiopia's World Cross Country Championships team. Since then, of course, Dibaba has won a World Cross double and a World Championships 5000m/10,000m double, making her the highest-ranked female distance runner in the IAAF World Rankings, and only eight points behind overall leader Yelena Isinbayeva.
Dibaba's 2006 season has so far been less successful, as after a nightmare of a journey to Britain, she failed to repeat her Edinburgh Cross Country win earlier this month. However, she returns to Boston this Saturday evening (28 January) to run the 5000m, again with her sister Ejegayehu, the 2004 Olympic Silver medalist at 10,000m.
Nelson, Williams and Jackson...
Dibaba is one of four individual World champions from Helsinki who will compete at the 2006 Reebok Boston Indoor Games at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. Adam Nelson, Lauryn Williams and Bershawn Jackson are also scheduled to compete.
Nelson, who won here last year as well, will be throwing the shot with Helsinki teammates John Godina and Christian Cantwell. Joining the trio is Reese Hoffa, currently ranked third in the world, meaning the world's second- (Nelson), third- (Hoffa) and fourth-ranked (Cantwell) putters will be throwing in Boston.
First time indoors as a professional
Williams, the World Champion at 100m, will sprint 60m against three other athletes with Helsinki gold medals: Angela Daigle-Bowen, Muna Lee and Lisa Barber, who with Williams won the 4x100m relay for the USA. Williams passed on the 2005 indoor season, so Boston will mark her first indoor meet as a professional.
Jackson, the surprise winner of the 400m Hurdles in Helsinki, will race 600m against a mixed field of middle-distance runners (former U.S. champion Jonathon Johnson,) other hurdlers (2003 World Championships 400m Hurdles silver medalist Joey Woody) and 400m sprinters (Andrew Rock, Alleyne Francique.) The three-lap race is nearly impossible to predict, being outside everyone's specialties.
Defar goes for 3000m motivated by close record miss
Olympic gold medalist Meseret Defar of Ethiopia returns to Boston once again in the 3000m, and just as she did in 2005, Sentayehu Ejigu will join her. Last year, this race produced the second-fastest indoor 3000m in history as Defar missed the World record by less than a tick of the clock. Had she not been caught behind lapped runners in the final laps, Defar might have made up the time, and it's unlikely she has forgotten how close it was.
Mottram prepares for Ethiopian onslaught at Two Miles
Even with these illustrious names coming to compete, one of the most anticipated events will be the Men’s Two Mile run, which meet organisers are calling "the greatest 2-mile lineup ever assembled in this country."
The Two Mile headliner is Australian Craig Mottram, third at 5000m at the Helsinki World Championships. Mottram, whose versatility in 2005 extended to wins at 10km and one mile on the streets of New York, has been training at altitude to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in late March. In Boston, Mottram will face a quartet of Ethiopians, starting with Sileshi Sihine and Gebre Gebremariam, who at global level have taken second places behind Keninisa Bekele on the track (Sihine) and cross country (Gebremariam.) World Indoor bronze medallist Markos Geneti and last year’s second fastest 10,000m runner Abebe Dinkessa should also be part of the lead pack.
All five will be checking their shoulders for Irishman Alistair Cragg, European indoor champion at 3000m last year. Cragg's defeat of Bekele at this meet last year, together with his upset of Noah Ngeny at 3000m in 2003, make him impossible to leave out of any race prediction.
Finally, World Athletic Final winner and IAAF World Ranked number one at the women’s 400m, Sanya Richards, will compete in the 400m, and 2003 World Indoor 800m champion David Krummenacker will contest the men’s 1000m.
Parker Morse for the IAAF