Dibaba's date with history
Tirunesh Dibaba, even at only 19 years old, has already created so much athletics history. But the Ethiopian added another chapter tonight, when she became the first woman to complete the 5,000 and 10,000 metres double at the World Championships.
She also led home the first cleansweep of the first four places in a women's even at the Worlds (following the 200 metres "foursweep" by the American men sprinters on Thursday), as she retained the title she had won in Paris two years ago,
In a cat-and-mouse type of race, in which the Chinese runners Yingjie Sun and Huina Xing, the Olympic 10,000m champion, played their part, Dibaba took decisive charge shortly at the bell, and out-strengthed her team mate, Olympic gold medallist Meseret Defar, who came to a jog just before the finishing line, as all her efforts to pass Dibaba came to nought.
Off her 58.19sec last 400, including a 28.04sec last 200, Dibaba clocked a championship record 14min 38.59sec, with Defar given 14:39.54. As she had done in the 10,000m final a week earlier, Dibaba's older sister, Ejagayou, added to the bulging family trophy cabinet with the bronze in 14:42.47. The fourth Ethiopian, Meselech Melkamu, was timed at 14:43.47, as she outkicked Xing down the home straight.
The race began predictably enough, with the Belarus, Olga Kravtsova, taking on the early pacemaking. But when the first kilometre took 3:02.53, this was clearly not good enough for the Chinese, and Xing's teammate rushed wide of the group down the home straight to set a more demanding pace, clicking out laps of 67sec, 68.09 and 69.95sec.
By 3km, though, Sun was fading, and Dibaba now headed a queue of Ethiopians at the front of a leading group numbered just seven. With a couple of laps remaining, Dibaba stepped wide, and the pace slowed to a dawdle until Isabella Ochichi, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, reluctantly moved forward.
As distance doubles go, this track achievement is perhaps even more impressive than the World Cross Country double she achieved in France in March.