Tirunesh Dibaba

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This article holds a patronymic name. This person is addressed by her name, Tirunesh, and not as Dibaba.
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 31)
Bekoji, Arsi, Ethiopia
Height 165 cm (5 ft 5 in)[1]
Weight 48 kg (106 lb)[1]
Country  Ethiopia
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 5000m, 10000m
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 5000m: 14:11.15 WR
10,000m: 29:42.56 4th fastest of all time
Half Marathon: 1:06:50 
Marathon: 2:20:35 2nd fastest debut 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.[2] She is the current World champion. She has won in total eight world track titles (three Olympic Gold medals and five World Championship Gold medals) and five world cross country titles. She is nicknamed the "Baby Faced Destroyer."[3]


Born in the village of Bekoji, Tirunesh was the 4th of 6 children, and began doing athletics at the age of 14. She was raised in the high-altitude Arsi Province in Ethiopia, but has lived in the capital, Addis Ababa, since 2000.

Tirunesh comes from an athletic family: her older sister, Ejegayehu, won the silver medal in the 10,000m at the 2004 Summer Olympics; her younger sister, Genzebe, won the junior race at the 2008 World Cross Country Championships[4] and holds the indoor world records for 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, and two miles; and brother Dejene is marked as a future star. Tirunesh and Genzebe are the only siblings in recorded history to hold concurrent world records.[5] Their cousin is 1992 and 2000 10000m Olympic champion Derartu Tulu.[5]


Tirunesh'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.

Tirunesh had great success in the world championships athletics events of 2003, 2005 and 2007. In 2003, Tirunesh 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, Tirunesh 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, Tirunesh 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, Tirunesh won with a time of 31:55.41.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Tirunesh 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.

Tirunesh 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. Tirunesh won the silver in the women's race at Mombasa in 2007 and the gold at Edinburgh in 2008.

Tirunesh 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 Tirunesh'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]

At the Oslo Golden League 2008 meeting Tirunesh set a new world record in the 5000 metres, running the distance in a time of 14:11.15.[2]

Tirunesh 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. Tirunesh 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, it is worth mentioning the 10000 m were introduced with the 1988 Olympics and the 5000 m with the 1996 games.[6]

She was named 2008 Track & Field News Athlete of the Year.[7] 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.[8]

At 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz she couldn't repeat her great performances from previous championships and finished fourth. Tirunesh 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.[9]

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.[10] She won the two-mile race at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix and took her second career win at the Carlsbad 5000 in March.[11][12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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".[15] 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.[16] She closed her year with a win at the Zevenheuvelenloop, setting the fastest time that season for the 15 km distance.[17]

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.[18] Tirunesh aimed to compete at the 2013 London Marathon, but a shin injury forced her to postpone her debut over the distance.[19] 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.[18] 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. Tirunesh took the lead with 700m remaining; however she could not shake off Defar, who passed her in the homestretch. Just 3 days later, Tirunesh 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 Tirunesh and Defar, however, Kenyan athlete Priscah Jeptoo won in the third fastest time ever over the half marathon. Tirunesh 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.

Tirunesh 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,[20] though stopped briefly near the 30 km mark of the race to pick up a dropped water bottle.[21] Later in the year, after becoming pregnant with her first child, Tirunesh announced she would skip the 2015 season.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Tirunesh is married to 2004 and 2008 Olympic 10,000 meter silver medallist Sileshi Sihine and they have a son, Nathan Sileshi, born in March 2015.[5][23][24]

After the Beijing Olympics, her club, the Prisons Police, bestowed the rank of Chief Superintendent for her services to club and country.[25] Tirunesh has an honorary doctorate from Addis Ababa University,[26] and has a hospital on the outskirts of Addis Ababa named after her.

She has ventured into the hotel industry by establishing an eponymous Three Star hotel, which was set to open at the end of 2013. Local architectural and construction firm Kellog Consult won the bid to design and build the $1.8 million hotel.

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 29:42.56 August 12, 2016 Rio de Janeiro
5 km (road) 14:51 April 3, 2005 Carlsbad
10 km (road) 30:30 September 1, 2013 Tilburg
15 km (road) 46:28 November 15, 2009 Nijmegen
Half marathon 1:06:50 February 10, 2017 Ras Al Khaimah


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 "Tirunesh Dibaba". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Turner, Chris (6 June 2008). "News Flash – 14:11.15 – Dibaba smashes World 5000m record in Oslo! – ÅF Golden League 2008". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Athlete profile on london2012.com. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Dibaba sisters make it a family affair – Edinburgh 2008". IAAF. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c "Meet the Dibabas: The Fastest Family on the Planet". Vogue. March 31, 2016. 
  6. ^ Mulvenney, Nick (22 August 2008). "Distance queen Dibaba surprises herself". Reuters. Retrieved 24 August 2008. 
  7. ^ 2008 T&FN Women’s Athlete Of The Year: Tirunesh Dibaba. 25 December 2008
  8. ^ van Hemert, Wim (15 November 2009). "Dibaba shatters 15Km World record in Nijmegen! – UPDATED". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  9. ^ "Dibaba takes down Masai in 10,000 m to notch first Ethiopian gold in Nairobi". IAAF. 31 July 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Valiente, Emeterio (1 January 2012). "Gebrehiwot surprises, Dibaba signals strong return in Madrid 10Km – San Silvestre Vallecana report". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Morse, Parker (5 February 2012). "Suhr scales 4.88m national record in Boston". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Rosenthal, Bert (2 April 2012). "Gebremeskel, Dibaba Win Carlsbad 5000". IAAF. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  13. ^ Gains, Paul (2 June 2012). "Dibaba 30:24.39 and Kiprop 27:01.98 on stunning but wet first night in Eugene – Samsung Diamond League". IAFF. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  14. ^ "10,000 Metres - women - senior - outdoor - 2012". IAAF. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Dibaba is back writing Olympic history again. IAAF. 4 August 2012.
  16. ^ Wenig, Jorg (16 September 2012). "Dibaba and Kipsang take Great North Run victories - REPORT". IAAF. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  17. ^ van Hemert, Wim (18 November 2012). "Dibaba and Kipkemboi prevail in Nijmegen 15K". IAAF. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Wenig, Jörg (26 May 2013). "World lead and course record for Tirunesh Dibaba over 10km in Manchester". IAAF. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Tirunesh Dibaba withdraws from London Marathon". Athletics Weekly. 14 March 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  20. ^ "London Marathon 2014: Edna Kiplagat wins women's elite race". BBC Sport. 13 April 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Edna Kiplagat Sprints To Victory At 2014 London Marathon in 2:20:20". Let's Run. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  22. ^ Mulkeen, Jon (5 November 2014). "Pregnant Tirunesh Dibaba to miss 2015 season". IAAF. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  23. ^ "Tirunesh Dibaba Gives Birth To a Boy In Atlanta Georgia". EthioSports, 28 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Dibaba and Sihine tie the knot in ten-day wedding feast". IAAF. 1 November 2008. 
  25. ^ "In a week of awards for Ethiopia's Beijing heroes, Dibaba becomes a Chief Superintendent". IAAF. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  26. ^ "AAU confers Honorary Degrees". Addis Ababa University. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 

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