Genzebe Dibaba - national record in Shanghai (Errol Anderson) © Copyright

Women's 1500 Metres - PREVIEW

Can Ethiopia win its first women’s Olympic 1500m title? Genzebe Dibaba and Abeba Aregawi certainly think so. At the very least the young pair is certainly poised to win the first medal of any colour in the event for the east African powerhouse after a flurry of strong early season performances.

At just 21 Dibaba, the younger sister of double Olympic champion Tirunesh, has already stepped from behind her sibling’s shadow, most recently when winning the World indoor 1500m title in Istanbul. A year her senior but not as known, Aregawi made waves by first pushing and then beating Dibaba in a series of late spring races which has managed to set the pair apart, at least as far as the clock in concerned.

The younger Dibaba made a huge leap in her first competition of the season with a runaway 3:57.77 victory in the Shanghai leg of the Samsung Diamond League in a race where she towed Aregawi to her first sub-4:00 performance. But that national record run didn't last for long. Dibaba followed up with a strong 4:00.85 in Rome, but only finished third in a race dominated by Aregawi who powered across the line in 3:56.54. Aregawi triumphed over Dibaba again in Oslo 4:02.42 to 4:03.28. Dibaba hasn’t raced again since while Aregawi then continued her tune-up with a low-key Swedish Clubs victory in Goteborg and a third place finish in Paris in 3:58.59.

As history has shown however, speed on the one-day meeting circuit isn’t the only component that matters in tactical finals. Indeed with 19 women having run under 4:02 this season – and with many of them in London – the list of potential challengers to the Ethiopian duo will hardly be a short one.

Beijing surprise winner Nancy Langat won't be back to defend her title, but Hellen Obiri will do her best to keep the title in Kenyan hands. Obiri, this year's World indoor 3000m champion, improved to 3:59.68 in Rome before winning the national championship and trials races.

Moroccan veteran Btissam Lakhouad (3:59.65 SB) dipped under four minutes in the fast Paris race as well and after an appearance in the 2008 final and a fourth place showing in Daegu last year, could be ready to challenge further here.

The U.S. comes armed with an experienced trio led by reigning World champion Jennifer Simpson, 2009 World bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury, and Morgan Uceny who beat them both at the national trials and at 4:01.43 the fastest of the three this year. Ekaterina Kostetskaya (3:59.28), a 2011 World 800m finalist, leads a strong Russian entry.

Surprise 2011 silver medallist Hannah England, 2009 World silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey (4:02.13 SB) and 21-year-old Laura Weightman carry the home team hopes.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF