Meseret Defar added yet another chapter in her remarkable journal of athletics success by matching the achievements of Gabriela Szabo and completing a hat-trick of World Indoor 3000m titles.
The gold-laden Ethiopian remains head and shoulders clear of the world’s best and extended her five-year unbeaten indoor record to 17 consecutive victories with yet another masterful performance.
Indeed, the last time Defar tasted defeat on an indoor track it was back at the 2003 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, when she had to settle for the bronze medal then aged 19 behind her countrywoman Berhane Adere.
It was somewhat inevitable the multi-talented Defar would prevail, and so it proved as she simply destroyed the field by winding up the pace from 400m out and unleashing her legendary kick-finish over the final lap.
And even Defar herself conceded in a post-race interview victory here at the Palau Velodromo Luis Puig was not the most testing of her career. “Today it was an easy race for me, because of that I didn’t have to run too fast,” she explained. “I feel that I’m ready for Beijing (Olympic Games) now.”
Portugal’s Jessica Augusto took the field through 1km in 2:59.33 before Morocco’s Mariem Alaoui Selsouli decided it was her turn to take on the pace 1200m out.
With three laps to go six athletes – Selsouli, Defar, her Ethiopian team-mate Meselech Melkamu, Russia’s Olga Komyagina, New Zealand’s Kim Smith and Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet of Kenya were all in contention – but on the penultimate lap it was time for Defar, the 2007 IAAF World Athlete of the Year, to take command.
From that point on there was only ever one outcome and she kicked clear of her nearest rival Melkamu around the first bend of the final lap. Game over.
Defar, the Olympic and World 5000m champion stopped the clock in 8:38.79 having run a 2:43.29 last 1km. Second was Melkamu 8:41.50 with Selsoluli (8.41.66) holding off a late charge from Kibet to cling on to the bronze medal. But it was all about Defar, yet again.
Steve Landells for the IAAF
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