March 20, 2016
PORTLAND, Ore. — They ran the women’s 3000m at the 2016 World Indoor Track and Field Championships to prove what we already knew: Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba is the best distance runner in the world right now.
After a slow first six laps (3:51.59 for 1200, 9:38 pace), Dibaba went to the front, took the lead with ease and would never relinquish it, winning gold in dominant fashion in 8:47.43. Meseret Defar, a four-time indoor gold medallist and two-time Olympic champion, was clearly best of the chasers and got silver — her seventh medal in this event overall — in 8:54.26.
American Shannon Rowbury was third-best on paper and she ran a well-executed race to secure the bronze in 8:55.55. Rowbury had been battling with Maureen Koster of the Netherlands and Betlhem Desalegn of the United Arab Emirates, but closed the best and was even gaining on Defar at the end. Koster finished fourth and American Abbey D’Agostino closed tremendously well from further back to get 5th as Desalegn would fade to 8th.
QT #1: Dominance For Dibaba Was Uneventful – “It was easy for me because the field was not that strong.”
This race looked predictable on paper and lived up to its billing. But that should not take away from Dibaba’s dominance. She’s clearly a notch ahead of the rest of the world right now.
She said as much afterwards, “It was easy for me because the field was not that strong. My family and my whole country are also happy. I’m starting my outdoor season in Eugene with a 5000m race. Last year, I tried breaking the world record in this event, but it’s not easy, I’ll try again. My sister Tirunesh has started training after having a baby, she will be competing in the 10,000m this summer.”
We wouldn’t call a field that includes Meseret Defar “not that strong,” but the comments show how good Dibaba is right now.
As for Defar, Portland has special significance to her as she gave birth here in 2014 and has been on the comeback trail since. “I am so happy, so unbelievabely happy. I am happy because I just had my baby girl not that long ago. This is so special for me,” Defar said.
QT #2: Shannon Rowbury wanted a medal and was extremely happy to get one
Rowbury won the 1500m bronze at the outdoors worlds in Berlin in 2009 and was back on the podium here with a solid run. She acknowledged the pro-American crowd at the finish. Afterwards she said the crowd helped her bring home bronze, “Over the last few laps in the race, I knew it was getting tough. Everyone else was working hard too. The crowd helped bring me home. I brought home a bronze in 2009. You only get so many opportunities in a championship. You only get this once in a lifetime to get Worlds at home and I wanted to take full advantage of that.”
Rowbury has said all along that her goal was to get a medal in this race, and her decision to choose the longer 3000 over the 1500 was validated with her bronze. Rowbury did let Defar go a bit toward the end of the race, and we asked she had any regrets and if she could have done anything different to get silver.
“I mean I came home with a bronze medal,” Rowbury said. “It’s hard to be regretful when you get to come away with a medal from a championships. Hindsight’s 20-20 and who knows? I know today how I performed, I came home with bronze. You could hypothesize until you’re blue in the face. I’m just proud to have brought home a medal for the U.S. today.”
QT #4: Another nice close for Abbey D’Agostino
D’Agostino didn’t know what place she was in during the latter stages of the race but said she was just fixed on the women in front of her, such as Great Britain’s Stephanie Twell.
“I really kept my eyes fixed and knew I could pick off a couple people in that lap, as short as it is,” D’Agostino said.
D’Agostino was slow to react to the surge in the middle of the race, but was happy that she took that approach because she knew that it wouldn’t stay really fast all the way to the finish. D’Agostino did pick it up at the end of the race, however, and was able to pass Twell and even gain on Koster and Rowbury in third and fourth, ultimately winding up fifth overall. She said that she’s always had confidence in her ability to close (it got her on the team last week at USAs) but that she didn’t get to work on it much last fall because she was hurt. D’Agostino has been healthy this winter however, and now that she’s been able to work on her last 400 and last 200 in practice, it’s starting to show in races.
QT #4: Could Dibaba Have Pulled Off the Double?
Dibaba was so dominant we’re left wondering if she could have pulled off the double here. It turned out the women’s 3000m was a straight final so the double would have been very doable: 1500m prelim on Friday, 1500m final on Saturday, and 3000m final today. With the original schedule, Dibaba would have also had to do a 3000m prelim on Friday, but the way she is looking we wouldn’t bet against her pulling that off as the 1500 and 3000.
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