Where Your Dreams Become Reality
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
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
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