August 5, 2013, updated at 9:15 am ET.
Ethiopian journalist Elshadai Negash is reporting that Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba are both now not attempting the double in Moscow. Defar will only run the 5000m and Dibaba only the 10,000m. This is another blow to athletics fans who have already lost the anticipated Tyson Gay – Usain Bolt matchup.
— Elshadai Negash (@ElshSuperStar) August 5, 2013
LRC Quick Take: It is well known that Defar and Dibaba have a fierce rivalry on the track (Defar cost Dibaba a $500,000 jackpot in 2006 for starters, even at last year’s Olympics LRCers were commenting on their cool interaction on the track.) and don’t like losing to one another.
Spin it how you want, but Dibaba and Defar are saying they’d rather give up the shot of winning another world title, than lose to one another. They’re both more likely to walk away with one World title now. However, Ethiopia is not more likely to walk away with more medals and track fans are left wanting for more.
Added at 9:10 am: LRC Quict Take #2: This development is HUGE boost for Shalane Flanagan‘s medal chances.
Added at 9:15 am: Quick Take #3: We’ll probably write a separate whole editorial but track and field needs a radical overall. Setting up fixes on the European DL circuit (you run x, I’ll run y) has been the norm for a long time, but come on at Worlds?
Far too many huge stars would rather not compete than compete and possibly lose. You see it all the time on the DL circuit and you see it at Worlds when people are deciding whether or not to double and also in cases where you have a huge star who is on the comeback trail from injury (Rudisha, Amos, Ennis, etc).
The 5000 and 10,000 are very similar events. The only reason the 10,000 and 5,000 double isn’t more common is because the person who wins the 10,000 often doesn’t want to possibly tarnish his or her legacy by coming up short in the 5000. It’s viewed as better to just win the 10,000 than it is to win the 10,000 and get third in the 5,000.