Dibaba ran away with victory in women’s 3,000 metres for Ethiopia
She crossed the line in 8 minutes 33.78 seconds, nearly 11 seconds ahead of Briton Yvonne Murray’s competition record set in 1989 in Athens.
In the suburbs of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, Olympic Gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba is at home making coffee for her family. She may not look like a record breaking athelete in her traditional dress as she goes through a traditional coffee ceremony, but Tirunesh is one of the best known track and long distance athletes in the world.
After a successful season competing in Europe, competing for Africa, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba ran away with victory in the women’s 3,000 metres, crossing the line in 8 minutes 33.78 seconds, nearly 11 seconds ahead of Briton Yvonne Murray’s competition record set in 1989 in Athens.
Dibaba is the perfect distance runner. A year ago at the world championships in Helsinki, Dibaba became world champion in the 10,000 metres and then successfully defended her 5,000 metres title to become the first woman to take the double.
Started running in primary school
She started running at a young age while she was still in primary school. But it was not until she was 15 that she started to win medals and brake world records. This year she was ranked as the best female athlete of the year by the International Association of Athletics Federation or IAAF.
“For sure my family did not expect me to go this far but now when they see how successful I have become and the results, they are so happy with where I am right now,” says Tirunesh.
Ethiopia is well known for its record-breaking runners. Many aspiring athletes go through years of rigorous training hoping to become good enough to run with the national team.
Ethiopia National Athletics Team coach Tolosa Kotu beleives that focused training plus a good training strategy, is what makes athletes like Tirunesh stay at the top of their sport.
“Tirunesh trains well and she listens to the coach’s advice and she knows what she’s doing. She is a strong athlete,” says Tolosa.
“My secret is very simple; I train properly and follow the coach’s instructions,” Tirunesh admits. Tirunesh is the darling of her Ethiopian fans. Almost everyone knows her. Her popularity rivals only that of Ethiopian Athletics legend Haile Gebrselssie who was once considered the best in the world.
He rates her abilities highly: “Do you think she can beat me? You never know. I don’t think so, I mean I still have enough speed; maybe it’s just not enough for 5,000 or 10,000 athletics. With Tirunesh you just never know. Maybe we’ll get to compete at some point I mean have you seen her sprint? She’s good.”
Tirunesh is best known for her trademark last minute sprint towards the finish line. “I will always remember the 5,000 metre world championship. It was in 2003 and I was so young. That was the happiest moment of my life,” Tirunesh says of one of the races that made her famous.
No matter how far away she is from home, her fans are always there to cheer her on. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter whether she wins or not, but what has made her so famous is that most of the time, she does.