Tirunesh Dibaba

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Tirunesh Dibaba
Tirunesh Dibaba Bislett Games 2008.jpg
Dibaba at the 2008 Bislett Games
Personal information
Nationality Ethiopian
Born (1985-06-01) 1 June 1985 (age 29)
Bekoji, Arsi, Ethiopia
Country  Ethiopia
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 5000m, 10000m
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

5000m: 14:11.15 WR

10,000m: 29:54.66 3rd of all time

Tirunesh Dibaba also known as Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene (Amharic: ጥሩነሽ ዲባባ ቀነኒ}; born June 1, 1985) is an Ethiopian long distance track athlete and the outdoor 5000 metres world record holder.[1] She is the current World and Olympic 10,000 metres champion. She has won in total five world track titles and five world cross country titles. She is nicknamed the "Baby Faced Destroyer."[2]

Born in the village of Bekoji, Dibaba was the 4th of 6 children. She was raised in the high-altitude Arsi in Ethiopia. She began doing athletics at the age of 14. She moved to the capital Addis Ababa in 2000.

Dibaba is part of an athletic family, with older sister Ejegayehu Dibaba winning the silver medal in the 10,000m at the 2004 Summer Olympics and brother Dejene marked as a future star. Their sister Genzebe won the junior race at the 2008 World Cross Country Championships.[3] And herself owns the indoor world records for the 1500m, 3000m and the two miles. 1992 and 2000 Olympic champion Derartu Tulu is also their cousin.


Dibaba's first fully international outdoor track event was the 2001 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Running at the age of 15 in women's junior race, she finished 5th. She won the 5000 m silver medal at the 2003 Afro-Asian Games.

Dibaba had great success in the world championships athletics events of 2003, 2005 and 2007. In 2003, Dibaba won the 5000 m in a sprint finish against Marta Dominguez of Spain and Edith Masai of Kenya. She became the youngest athlete ever to win an individual gold medal at the World Championships. So little was known about her that during this race British commentators Steve Cram and Brendan Foster failed to mention her name even once until the final 100 metres. At the 2005 championships, Dibaba produced a blistering finish to out-sprint compatriot Berhane Adere and her own sister Ejegayehu and also became the first woman to win the 10,000/5000 m double at the same championships. In 2007, when the championships were held in Osaka, Dibaba again utilised her sprint finish to overhaul Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse despite a tumble that happened mid-race and having abdominal pains throughout the race. She became the only woman to win back-to-back 10,000 m titles. In Osaka, Dibaba won with a time of 31:55.41.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Dibaba was beaten into third place by Meseret Defar of Ethiopia and Isabella Ochichi of Kenya in 5000 m event. The result was considered by some to be a disappointment but at 19, she still became the youngest ever medalist for Ethiopia at the Olympics.

In 2006 she won five out of six Golden League events (5000 m) in the same season, which earned her a total of $83,333.

Dibaba is also a remarkably successful cross country runner; she has five IAAF World Cross Country Championships victories, including one junior title (Lausanne, 2003), one short course title (Saint-Galmier, 2005), and two long course titles (Saint-Galmier, 2005, and Fukuoka, 2006). From 2007, there was just one race in each category. Dibaba won the silver in the women's race at Mombasa in 2007 and the gold at Edinburgh in 2008.

Dibaba is known to have an on-track rivalry with Meseret Defar, and races featuring the two are highly anticipated, but rare, usually only occurring at championships.

A major feature of Dibaba's running style is an incredible sprint finish. During the final lap of the 10,000 m in 2005, Dibaba was clocked over the closing 400 m in 58.33 seconds.

Double Olympic gold[edit]

Dibaba set a new 5000 metres world record, 14 minutes 11.15 seconds, at the Oslo Golden League 2008 meeting.[1]

Dibaba won 10,000 metres Gold in Beijing Olympic on August 15, 2008, setting a new Olympic record time of 29:54.66; the old record of 30:17.49 had been set by fellow Ethiopian and cousin Derartu Tulu at Sydney Olympic Summer Games back in 2000. The new Olympic record was also the second fastest 10,000 metres of all time and an African record. The previous African record (30:04.18) was held by Berhane Adere, set at the 2003 World Championships.

One week later on August 22, 2008 she won the 5000 metres by beating the defending gold medalist Meseret Defar. Dibaba finished the race in 15:41.40. This olympic double win made her the first woman to win both 5000 and 10,000 metres at the same Olympics.[4]

She was named 2008 Track & Field News Athlete of the Year.[5] She also received the IAAF award for the female Performance of the Year for 2008, the same award she already collected in 2005.

Injuries after Beijing Olympics[edit]

In 2009 injuries prevented her from competing in the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman and 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin.

On November 15, 2009 she won the Zevenheuvelenloop 15 kilometres race in Nijmegen, Netherlands and beat Kayoko Fukushi's 15 km world record by almost half a minute, finishing in 46:28. This was her first competitive road race since 2005, but she downplayed the idea of moving on to road running, stating that the track remained her priority.[6]

At 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz she couldn't repeat her great performances from previous championships and finished fourth. Dibaba defended her 10,000 m title at 2010 African Championships in Athletics in Nairobi with a time of 31:51.39 ahead of teammate Meselech Melkamu and Linet Masai of Kenya. Her final 400 m was timed at 61 seconds.[7]

Return in 2012[edit]

Her career was again beset by injuries and after 16 months out of competition, she returned at the 2011 New Year's Eve San Silvestre Vallecana and won by beating Gelete Burka in a sprint finish.[8] She won the two-mile race at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix and took her second career win at the Carlsbad 5000 in March.[9][10] In her first outdoor track race of the year, she won the 10,000 m at the Prefontaine Classic by holding off Florence Kiplagat at the line.[11]

At the 2012 London Olympics, she defended her 10,000 metres title with a powerful performance over the final 600 metres, winning in a time of 30:20.75 minutes – the fastest run that year.[12] This made her the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic 10,000 m titles. After the win she said "I have never been happier than today – this is even better than in Beijing".[13] She again tried for an Olympic long-distance double but this time had to be satisfied with the bronze medal in 5000 metres race. After the Olympics she turned to new challenges on the roads. In her half marathon debut at the Great North Run she had one of the fastest ever debut runs to win the race in a time of 67:35 minutes.[14] She closed her year with a win at the Zevenheuvelenloop, setting the fastest time that season for the 15 km distance.[15]

She aimed to break the world record for the indoor two miles at the 2013 Boston Indoor Games, but found herself frustrated with slow pacing and finished in 9:13.17 minutes – seven seconds off the record.[16] Tirunesh aimed to compete at the 2013 London Marathon, but a shin injury forced her to postpone her debut over the distance.[17] She was in good form at the Great Manchester Run and set a course record and personal best time of 30:49 minutes to win the race.[16] She went to Moscow as the favourite to win the 10,000m title. During the race, she shadowed the leaders, only taking the lead with 500m remaining. She covered her final 400m in 59.9 seconds, easily winning her fifth individual world championships gold medal, the most ever by a female athlete. After the world championships, she turned her attention to the diamond league, taking part in the 5000m in Zurich against Meseret Defar, the reigning Olympic and world champion at 5000m. Dibaba took the lead with 700m remaining; however she could not shake off Defar, who passed her in the homestretch. Just 3 days later, Dibaba ran a 10 km in Tilburg, posting a time of 30:30, the fourth fastest time ever on the roads. Her final race of the 2013 season was the Great North Run, where she was the defending champion. The race was billed as a "showdown" between Dibaba and Defar, however, Kenyan athlete Priscah Jeptoo won in the third fastest time ever over the half marathon. Dibaba finished third, behind Jeptoo and Defar, in a time of 66:55, becoming the 17th woman to run under 67 minutes for the half marathon.

Dibaba made her marathon debut in the 2014 London Marathon. She finished third in a time of 2:20:34, behind Edna Kiplagat and Florence Kiplagat.[18] Dibaba stopped briefly near the 30km mark of the race to pick up a dropped water bottle.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Dibaba is married to 2004 and 2008 Olympic 10,000 meter silver medallist Sileshi Sihine.

After the Beijing Olympics her club, the Prisons Police, bestowed the rank of Chief Superintendent for her services to club and country.[20] A hospital named after her is located on the outskirt of Addis Ababa.

She has ventured into the hotel industry by establishing a Three Star hotel named after her set to begin service end of 2013. Local based Kellog Consult a design and construction firm has won the bid to design and construct the hotel at $1.8 million.


On July 12-2014 Tirunesh Dibaba was among the four people who have received Honorary Doctoral Degree from Addis Ababa University.[21]

IAAF Results[edit]

Diamond League[edit]

Diamond League is an annual series of track and field meets organised by the IAAF and founded in 2010.

Dibaba celebrating her 10,000 m victory at the 2007 World Championships.
Year Meeting Event Result Mark
2010 Adidas Grand Prix, New York City 5000 m 1st 15:11.34
Aviva London Grand Prix, London 5000 m 1st 14:36.41
2012 Adidas Grand Prix, New York City 5000 m 1st 14:50.80
2013 Prefontaine Classic, Eugene 5000 m 1st 14:42.01
Meeting Areva, Paris 5000 m 1st 14:23.68

World Athletics Final[edit]

World Athletics Final was an annual athletics competition organised by the IAAF from 2003 to 2009.

Year Location Event Result Mark
2003 Monaco 5000 m 3rd 14:57.87
2005 Monaco 5000 m 2nd 14:46.84
2006 Stuttgart 3000 m 2nd 8:34.74
5000 m 1st 16:04.77
2009 Thessaloniki 5000 m 2nd 15:25.92

Golden League[edit]

Golden League was an annual series of track and field meetings organised by the IAAF from 1998 to 2009.

Year Meeting Event Result Mark
2002 Bruxelles 3000 m 11th 8:41.86
Berlin 5000 m 6th 14:49.90
2003 Oslo 5000 m 3rd 14:39.94
Roma 5000 m 4th 14:41.97
2004 Bergen 5000 m 2nd 14:30.88
Roma 5000 m 4th 14:47.43
2005 Roma 5000 m 1st 14:32.57
2006 Oslo 5000 m 1st 14:30.40
Paris Saint-Denis 5000 m 1st 14:54.24
Roma 5000 m 1st 14:52.37
Zürich 5000 m 1st 14:45.73
Bruxelles 5000 m 1st 14:30.63
Berlin 5000 m 2nd 15:02.87
2007 Paris Saint-Denis 5000 m 1st 15:21.84
2008 Oslo 5000 m 1st 14:11.15
Roma 5000 m 1st 14:36.58

Personal bests[edit]


Event Mark Date Location
3000 m 8:29.55 July 28, 2006 London
5000 m 14:11.15 (WR) June 6, 2008 Oslo
10,000 m 29:54.66 August 15, 2008 Beijing
5 km (road) 14:51 April 3, 2005 Carlsbad
10 km (road) 30:30 September 1, 2013 Tilburg
15 km (road) 46:28 (WR) November 15, 2009 Nijmegen
Half marathon 1:06:55 September 15, 2013 Newcastle


Event Mark Date Location
3000 m 8:33.37 January 26, 2008 Boston
Two miles 9:12.23 February 20, 2010 Birmingham
5000 m 14:27.42 January 27, 2007 Boston


  1. ^ a b "News Flash – 14:11.15 – Dibaba smashes World 5000m record in Oslo! – ÅF Golden League 2008" at IAAF.org
  2. ^ Athlete profile on london2012.com. Retrieved on 2012-08-04
  3. ^ Dibaba sisters make it a family affair – Edinburgh 2008. IAAF.org. 30 March 2008
  4. ^ Mulvenney, Nick (2008-08-22). "Distance queen Dibaba surprises herself". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  5. ^ 2008 T&FN Women’s Athlete Of The Year: Tirunesh Dibaba. 25 December 2008
  6. ^ van Hemert, Wim (2009-11-15). Dibaba shatters 15Km World record in Nijmegen! – UPDATED. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-11-16.
  7. ^ Dibaba takes down Masai in 10,000 m to notch first Ethiopian gold in Nairobi. IAAF.org 31 July 2010
  8. ^ Valiente, Emeterio (2012-01-01). Gebrehiwot surprises, Dibaba signals strong return in Madrid 10Km – San Silvestre Vallecana report. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-01-06.
  9. ^ Morse, Parker (2012-02-05). Suhr scales 4.88m national record in Boston. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  10. ^ Rosenthal, Bert (2012-04-02). Gebremeskel, Dibaba Win Carlsbad 5000. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-04-03.
  11. ^ Gains, Paul (2012-06-02). Dibaba 30:24.39 and Kiprop 27:01.98 on stunning but wet first night in Eugene – Samsung Diamond League. IAAF. Retrieved on 2012-06-03.
  12. ^ 10,000 Metres - women - senior - outdoor - 2012. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-01-21.
  13. ^ Dibaba is back writing Olympic history again. IAAF.org 04 August 2012
  14. ^ Wenig, Jorg (2012-09-16). Dibaba and Kipsang take Great North Run victories - REPORT. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-01-21.
  15. ^ van Hemert, Wim (2012-11-18). Dibaba and Kipkemboi prevail in Nijmegen 15K. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-01-21.
  16. ^ a b Wenig, Jörg (2013-05-26). World lead and course record for Tirunesh Dibaba over 10km in Manchester. IAAF. Retrieved on 2013-06-01.
  17. ^ Tirunesh Dibaba withdraws from London Marathon. Athletics Weekly. Retrieved on 2013-06-01.
  18. ^ http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/athletics/27010070
  19. ^ http://www.letsrun.com/news/2014/04/edna-kiplagat-sprints-victory-2014-london-marathon-22020/
  20. ^ In a week of awards for Ethiopia’s Beijing heroes, Dibaba becomes a Chief Superintendent. IAAF.org 26 September 2008
  21. ^ http://www.aau.edu.et/ http://www.aau.edu.et/blog/aau-confers-honorary-degrees/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ethiopia Meseret Defar
Women's 5000 m World Record Holder
June 6, 2008 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ethiopia Meseret Defar
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Sanya Richards
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ethiopia Meseret Defar
Women's 5000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Kenya Vivian Cheruiyot