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LetsRun.com's 2009 IAAF Berlin World Championships Preview

Women's 10,000m - All-Time Greats Set To Battle In What Could Be An Epic Race
*Update: Dibaba Out Of 10,000, Doubtful For 5,000!

By LetsRun.com
August, 2009

When: August 15 (finals)
*LRC's World Championship Prediction Contest
*LRC WC Previews/Results/Recaps By Event
*LRC WC Previews/Results/Recaps By Day
IAAF Worlds Page

The question in the women's 10,000m will be Tirunesh Dibaba's ability to defend her spot as the world's greatest track distance runner. She has won 2 consecutive IAAF World Championship 10,000m finals and doubled up in Beijing at 5,000m and 10,000m. Injuries have hampered her a bit in 2009, but Dibaba has returned to action with a solid performance in London.

Well, that WAS our opening paragraph, but now Dibaba has unfortunately been ruled out of the 10,000m due to injury.

Dibaba's Ethiopian counterparts will still be the race favorites, with the likes of Meseret Defar (#2 all-time at 5,000, #5 all-time at 10,000) and Ethiopian-born Turk Elvan Abeylegesse (#4 all-time at 10,000). This year Defar, emulating Dibaba, is having her first crack at the 5k/10k double, laying down a sub-30:00 performance to qualify her for the amazingly deep Ethiopian 10k squad. Defar had not run the 10k in ten years before 2009. Now she's the #5 performer of all time in the event.

Abeylegesse has been a worthy adversary to Defar and Dibaba, two women who have had few close races. Abeylegesse pushed Dibaba in the 10,000m in 2007, and pushed her again in 2008 en route to silver at both 5k and 10k. The Turk has raced extremely sparingly in 2009 and has not had any truly amazing performances. We'll see if she's in the race with 400m to go as she has made a habit of lately.

The remaining Ethiopians are insanely good. Meselech Melkamu ran 29:53 earlier this year, making her the 2nd-fastest woman of all time. And Wude Ayalew wasn't far behind in 30:11, just outside the world's all-time top 10 list. That's some team.

Kenya's Florence Kiplagat, Linet Masai and Grace Momanyi could come through for medals. As much as the Kenyans hope to first unseat Mr. Bekele in the men's 5k and 10k, they would certainly enjoy righting the ship on the women's side, where Dibaba and Defar have ruled for awhile now.

In Osaka the Kenyans came close in the 5,000m, grabbing spots 2-4, but missed out entirely on the 10,000m medals. It's shocking to look back at the video above and just look at who occupies spots 3, 4, and 5 at the bell. None other than Jo Pavey, Kara Goucher, and Kim Smith. It seems like things have changed so much since then that it's almost inconcievable not to have 5 or 6 African women at the front.

If any non-Africans sneak into the medals, Smith, Olympic bronze winner Shalane Flanagan, Olympic 5th-placer Mariya Konovalova and 2009 Russian champion Liliya Shobukhova seem to be the top candidates this year.

Handicapping this year's 10,000m race is a difficult task because Dibaba is not fully fit. She has only raced twice on the track, 14:40 (loss at Reebok) and 14:33 (win at Crystal Palace) for 5,000m. Defar set two world indoor records this winter at two miles (9:06) and 5,000m (14:24), and has run 14:36 and 29:59 this outdoor season. Abeylegesse hasn't run under 31:00 this year and hasn't done anything else remarkable. However, when we look back to her 2008 stats, she hadn't done anything remarkable then either ... until Beijing rolled around.

Melkamu has raced at 3,000m and 5,000m, but this 10,000 will be her first major go at a global medal. That is to say, other than World Cross-Country, where she was third this year. She could win this thing, but only if she has an insane kick to take down Defar and Dibaba.

Kenyan Florence Kiplagat won 2009 World Cross-Country but was 20 seconds down to Melkamu in Utrecht in mid-June when Melkamu ran 29:53.

If forced to make a decision, we'll take Defar over Dibaba and the rest of the field. If the 10k were after the 5k, we might change our pick, but a fresh, fit Defar is more likely to beat a fresh, semi-fit Dibaba. What about Flanagan? Can she repeat her bronze medal performance from 2008 and keep the USA medal streak alive? Boy, it doesn't look too hopeful with the giants she'll have to face. Check out our full predictions below.

LRC Predictions:
Gold: Meseret Defar ETH
Silver: Tirunesh Dibaba ETH
Bronze: Elvan Abeylegesse TUR
4th: Florence Kiplagat KEN
5th: Meselech Melkamu ETH
6th: Linet Masai KEN

Key Players
Tirunesh Dibaba ETH
Meselech Melkamu ETH
Meseret Defar ETH
Wude Ayalew ETH
Florence Kiplagat KEN
Linet Masai KEN
Elvan Abeylegesse TUR
Shalane Flanagan USA
Kim Smith NZL

Women's 10,000m Statistics By LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg

29:53.80  Meselech Melkamu (ETH) (#2 all-time) 3rd in 2009 World XC Championships
29:59.20  Meseret Defar (ETH) (#5 all-time)
30:11.53  Florence Kiplagat (KEN) (#10 all-time) 2009 World XC Champion
30:11.87  Wude Ayalew (ETH)
30:30.93  Liliya Shobukhova (RUS)
30:47.20  Sylvia Kibet (KEN)+
30:48.26  Aberu Kebede (ETH)
30:51.92  Hilda Kibet (NED)   15th in 2008 Olympic Games
31:08.52  Mariya Konovalova (RUS)  PR 30:35.84 (2008)   5th in 2008 Olympic Games
31:10.68  Kseniya Agafonova (RUS)
31:19.00  Werknesh Kidane (ETH)  PR 30:07.15 (#8 all-time) (2003)+
31:22.69  Amy Yoder Begley (USA) (#9 all-time USA)   26th in 2008 Olympic Games
31:23.43  Shalane Flanagan (USA)  PR 30:22.22 AR (2008)   Bronze medal in 2008 Olympic Games
31:27.56  Sabrina Mockenhaupt (GER)  PR 31:14.21 (2008)   13th in 2008 Olympic Games, 15th in 2004 Olympic Games, 17th in 2005 World Championships
31:51.98  Elvan Abeylegesse (TUR)  PR 29:56.34 (#4 all-time) (2008)   Silver medal in 2008 Olympic Games, silver medal in 2007 World Championships
32:08.04  Katie McGregor (USA)  PR 31:21.20 (#7 all-time USA) (2005)   13th in 2007 World Championships, 14th in 2005 World Championships
32:49.3(A)  Linet Masai (KEN)  PR 30:26.50 (2008)   4th in 2008 Olympic Games
No mark in 2009  Grace Momanyi (KEN) PR 31:08.24 (2008)
No mark in 2009  Ejegayehu Dibaba (ETH)  PR 30:18.39 (2005)   Silver medal in 2004 Olympic Games, bronze medal in 2005 World Championships, 7th in 2007 World Championships, 9th in 2003 World Championships, 14th in 2008 Olympic Games
No mark in 2009  Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH)+  PR 29:54.66 (#3 all-time) (2008)   Gold medal in 2008 Olympic Games, gold medal in 2007 World Championships, gold medal in 2005 World Championships
No mark in 2009  Kim Smith (NZL)  PR 30:35.54 (2008)   5th in 2007 World Championships, 9th in 2008 Olympic Games, 15th in 2005 World Championships
+ = Not on Worlds Team in 10,000m



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