Genzebe Dibaba after winning the 3000m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: women's 1500m – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Genzebe Dibaba has already made her mark on the indoor track at Arena Birmingham. Back in February 2014, the diminutive Ethiopian demolished Meseret Defar’s two mile world best with the 9:00.48 figures that still stand today. It was Dibaba’s third global mark in 15 days that month.

Four years on, the East African phenomenon returns to Birmingham seeking to raise her haul of world indoor crowns from three to five. By the time she lines up for the 1500m heats on Friday evening, Dibaba might already have number four in the bag, following the straight 3000m final on Thursday. She won the 1500m in Istanbul in 2012 and the 3000m in Sopot in 2014 and Portland two years ago. This will be her first tilt at a world indoor double.

The 27-year-old will be fired up to make her mark on the global stage again, illness having reduced her to a 12th-placed also-ran in the 1500m at last year’s IAAF World Championships in London, where she subsequently scratched from the 5000m. Ominously for her rivals, she looked like the Dibaba of 2014 when powering to the second-fastest indoor 1500m of all time, 3:57.45, at the opening IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Karlsruhe on 3 February. It was in the same German city where she flew to her 3:55.17 world record four years ago.

Only two women have been two-time winners of the world indoor 1500m title: the Romanian Doina Melinte (1987, 1989) and Regina Jacobs of the US (1995, 2003). Dibaba will be strongly fancied to become the third.

Not that the field is short of potential threats. Britain’s Laura Muir is looking to replicate her 2017 European indoor 3000m-1500m double on the world stage and the trainee vet is in sharp form, with an 800m world lead and Scottish indoor record of 1:59.69.

Then there is Beatrice Chepkoech. The Kenyan who famously lost her way at the water jump two laps into the 3000m steeplechase final at last year’s World Championships has scored impressive victories on the IAAF World Indoor Tour, triumphing with national indoor records in Dusseldorf (4:04.21) and Glasgow (4:02.21) to win the overall series title.

Dibaba will also have to contend with all three medallists from Portland two years ago: her long-time Dutch rival Sifan Hassan plus her Ethiopian teammates Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay.

Simon Turnbull for the IAAF