2012 Olympic Women's 10,000: Tirunesh Dibaba Makes The Case For Being The Greatest Ever

Dibaba Becomes The First Woman Ever To Defend Her Olympic 10,000 Title; All Three Americans PR


By LetsRun.com
August 3, 2012

After 27-year-old Tirunesh Dibaba crossed the finish line to become the first women in history to repeat as Olympic 10,000 champion, the thought that popped into the collective minds that are LetsRun.com was as follows:

"Is there any doubt that she is the greatest women's distance runner in the history of track and field?"

Four years ago in Beijing, Dibaba had set the Olympic record by running 29:54.66. Tonight in London, she had obliterated the field over the final 500 meters. Even though she didn't take the lead until roughly 530 meters remained, Dibaba ended up winning by the second largest margin in Olympic history - 5.62 seconds (Derartu Tulu, who won Olympic 10,000 gold in 1992 and 2000 won by 5.73 seconds in 1992).

The record books will forever show that former Texas Tech star Sally Kipyego earned a much-deserved silver medal in 30:26.37, but in the end, it seemed as if Kipyego and Dibaba were almost playing two different sports. 2011 double world champ Vivian Cheruiyot, who hadn't lost a track race since August 13, 2010 and was expected to challenge Dibaba tonight, ended up third in 30:30.44.

Without A Doubt The Greatest 10,000 Runner Ever
With tonight's win in London, one thing is certain, Dibaba is certainly the greatest women's 10,000 runner in history. Dibaba is undefeated for her career at the 10,000 distance - a perfect nine for nine. And those nine victories include two World titles and two Olympic titles. To boot, she's also #3 all-time at the distance 29:54.66.

Looking at her entire body of work in all distances, it's hard to argue she's not the greatest female women's distance runner in track and field history - certainly if you ignore the marathon. Dibaba has now won four World titles in cross-country, four World titles in track (two at 5,000 and two at 10,000) and three Olympic titles (two at 10,000, one at 5,000), plus she possesses the world record in the 5,000 (14:11.15).

While she initially was listed as a provisional entry in the 5,000, after the race, Dibaba said she wants to run the 5. How can the Ethiopians keep her off the team? After watching tonight's 10,000, they might as well just hand her the 12th individual gold medal now.

The Race
The race started at a decent but modest pace as the three Japanese entrants put it on basically 31:00 pace from the gun, as the first two opening 1,600s were run in 4:57 (3,200 in 9:55). The Japanese started to slow before 5,000 and by the time the leaders got to 5,000 (15:32), Kipyego was in front, as the third 1,600 was basically 5:00. Kipyego increased the tempo and put down a 71 and the fourth 1,600 was run in 4:49. But the big guns were just getting warmed up.

30-year-old Worknesh Kidane, who was the World Cross champion back in 2003, took the lead and led most of the penultimate 1,600, going 68.91, 71.07, 71.91 and 73.39, keeping the pace honest and helping Dibaba in the process. The only major casualty along the way was Kenya's Joyce Chepkirui, who dropped out with 7 laps remaining clutching her leg. With 1,500 meters to go, Kipyego took the lead. For most of the last 8 laps, Dibaba was content to run in fourth, but with just more than three laps to go, she moved into second and got right behind Kipyego.

Dibaba would stay right there until about 530 meters remained. At this point, Dibaba must have been feeling really good, as she went to the lead and led by more than 10 meters at the bell. But she was just getting started (68.10 next-to-last lap), as by the finish she was more than 40 meters in front and the cameraman was having a hard time keeping her and Kipyego in the same picture.

In the end, the stats would show Dibaba covered her final 3,200 in about 9:17 and her last 1,600 in 4:33 with a last lap of 62.08. But to be truthful, that wasn't all-out for Dibaba. Remember, this is a woman who ran her last 1,600 in a 5,000 in New York earlier this year in 4:22.

Her last 5,000 was roughly 14:47 tonight and all three women who were able to go sub-15:00 on the second half got medals.

Dibaba Was So Dominant It Was Hard
For The Cameraman To Keep Everyone In The Picture

The Other Finishers
After the medallists, Kidane was the only other women to finish within 20 seconds of Dibaba, as she was fourth in 30:39.38. The third Ethiopian Beleynesh Ojiri was fifth in 30:45.56.

The next nine finishers all had nothing to complain about, as all nine of them set new seasonal bests and eight of them personal bests. Bahrain's Shitaye Eshete (Ethiopian-born) set a new national record (30:47.25) to finish sixth and Brit Joanne Pavey was the first non-African-born runner in seventh in 30:53.20.

The three Americans ran together for most of the race and finished in succession in 11th, 12th and 13th as all three set new PRs, as Amy Hastings ran 31:10.69 (previous PR 31:19.87), Janet Bawcom ran 31:12.68 (previous PR 31:33.50) and Lisa Uhl ran 31:12.80 (previous PR 31:18.07).

Post-Race Reaction: Dibaba Wants to Run The Marathon, Cheruiyot Pleased And Disappointed, Kipyego Gets Silver

As for the champion Dibaba, the hardest part may have been getting to the starting line, as she dominated the final two laps. A series of injuries, most recently shin splints, nearly prevented her from defending her Olympic title. She said, "I had a few injuries. I did not think I was going to make it for this Olympics, but I was wrong."

Dibaba said some team tactics were discussed before the race and that played into Werknesh Kidane pushing the pace. Dibaba said, "We (the Ethiopians and their coach) had a discussion just before we went into the race. We had a discussion with our coach to make it (the pace) stronger heading into the last few laps."

As for the final two laps, Dibaba said, "I was ready to go from 400 or 600 and I decided after 500 to go because it was a fast race."

First up is likely the 5,000m final, but then she announced she will turn her attention to the marathon, saying, "For the future, God willing I am planning to do a marathon. I am planning on doing it next year." She said she wants to run the 5,000, 10,000 and the marathon all next year.

The biggest surprise of the day was not Dibaba winning, but Vivian Cheruiyot getting third. Cheruiyot has been a world beater since winning her first world title in 2007, winning three World titles. This was her first track loss since August 2010. She had mixed emotions afterwards. She told LetsRun.com, "I am happy. It was good because I did my personal best. I am happy because this is my first time to get a medal at the Olympics. I am not disappointed at all."

Then at the main press conference, she started off by saying, " I am really disappointed." So her emotions were definitely mixed.

She now turns her attention the 5,000m saying, "The 10,000m was new last year. I know I am going to do something at 5,000m because it is my event."

That leaves the surprise of the night, Sally Kipyego, who also wants to double back in the 5,000m. Kipyego was the silver medallist last year but that race did not include Dibaba. Tonight Kipyego was clearly better than Cheruiyot. It was Kipyego pushing the pace early on in the final mile. She said the goal was to take the kick away from Dibaba. "I know she (Dibaba) can close really well. I was trying to stretch the race a little bit with 3 laps to go. I tried to push the pace to make it a little bit painful for everyone. Unfortunately it did not work, as she kicked very well. I'm happy. I gave it my best shot." She told LRC the kick may have helped her grab the silver saying, "It may helped me a lot in terms of getting the silver. Maybe it affected Vivian."

Americans All PR In 11th, 12th, 13th:
As for the Americans, all three finished within 2 seconds of one another in 11th, 12th, and 13th, and all three set personal bests. They did not run together throughout, as Amy Hastings hung with the leaders the longest, then Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, then Lisa Uhl.

Amy told LetsRun.com, "I am very happy. Any time you end your season at the Olympics, it's a good thing." She was happy with the PR, but was hoping to hit a home run, saying, "I wish it had gone a little bit differently. I was hoping for something special to happen. I am happy, I did run a PR. That is pretty exciting to run a PR at the Olympics."

Janet told LRC, "I couldn't have asked for a better one (first Olympics). I ran a 21-second PR, I can't complain at all. The crowd was amazing, especially the last mile, I really felt like they were cheering for me (the crowd was going nuts and really cheered on Tirunesh Dibaba the last lap)." She added, "My goal was to run a PR and compete. I think I accomplished what I came for, I wish I could have run a little bit faster, but it was great."

Lisa told USATF, "It was the fastest 31 minutes and 12 seconds of my life. It flew by. Honestly, I just tried to find people to hold on to and stick on. I wanted to try to be top 10, so I just put myself between 10th and 15th place the majority of the time, and always tried to run behind someone because of the wind. I think I executed my race plan really well. I didn't have what I wanted to have the last 800 meters, but I wouldn't change anything. I feel like I did everything correctly. I dug deep when I had to and I ran a six-second PR and a big season best, so it was a great experience."

Quick Take (QT) #1: A lot of people don't realize that Kenya's rise in women's distance running is a recent phenomenon. The silver and bronze may not have been what Kenya wanted, but they were the first two Olympic 10,000 medals for a Kenyan woman. Two 10,000m medals ever trails the US total (Lynn Jennings and Shalane Flanagan).

QT #2: Crack statistician Ken Nakamura has shared the following stats with us: 2:45.68 for the last 1,000m is the fastest-ever final 1,000m in the OG. The previous fastest was 2:48.15 in 2000. The last lap of 62.08 is not the fastest, however. In 2000, Tulu ran 60.3 sec.

QT #3: Our second thought after thinking she's the greatest woman's distance runner ever was, "We knew that her being an underdog was a mistake by the bookies. LetsRun.com should have bet the house on her."

Results and splits that we typed up as the race was going on.

10,000 Metres - W Final  - 03 August 2012 - 21:25
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 1706 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 30:20.75 (SB)
2 2336 Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego KEN 30:26.37 (PB)
3 2327 Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot KEN 30:30.44 (PB)
4 1710 Werknesh Kidane ETH 30:39.38 (SB)
5 1713 Beleynesh Oljira ETH 30:45.56 .
6 1258 Shitaye Eshete BRN 30:47.25 (NR)
7 1871 Joanne Pavey GBR 30:53.20 (PB)
8 1849 Julia Bleasdale GBR 30:55.63 (PB)
9 2257 Hitomi Niiya JPN 30:59.19 (PB)
10 2250 Kayoko Fukushi JPN 31:10.35 (SB)
11 3294 Amy Hastings USA 31:10.69 (PB)
12 3277 Janet Cherobon-Bawcom USA 31:12.68 (PB)
13 3323 Lisa Uhl USA 31:12.80 (PB)
14 2729 Sara Moreira POR 31:16.44 (PB)
15 2100 Fionnuala Britton IRL 31:46.71 .
16 2263 Mika Yoshikawa JPN 31:47.67 .
17 1950 Sabrina Mockenhaupt GER 31:50.35 .
18 2151 Nadia Ejjafini ITA 31:57.03 .
19 2861 Elizaveta Grechishnikova RUS 32:11.32 .
20 3191 Olha Skrypak UKR 32:14.59 .
21 1084 Eloise Wellings AUS 32:25.43 .
. 2324 Joyce Chepkirui KEN DNF .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
1000m 2250 Kayoko Fukushi JPN 3:06.07
2000m 2257 Hitomi Niiya JPN 6:11.57
3000m 2257 Hitomi Niiya JPN 9:18.27
4000m 2257 Hitomi Niiya JPN 12:24.93
5000m 2336 Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego KEN 15:32.06
6000m 1710 Werknesh Kidane ETH 18:32.08
7000m 1710 Werknesh Kidane ETH 21:36.78
8000m 1710 Werknesh Kidane ETH 24:34.07
9000m 2336 Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego KEN 27:35.07

2:28.8 3 Japanese in front with an Irish woman gap of 15 meters to main pack.
3:43.0 main pack has essentially caught up.
4:57.2 at 1,600
74.2 next lap
74.3 next lap
74.4 next lap
9:55.7 74.5 japanese still leading
75.3 lisa uhl is now at back of main pack about to get dropped, Janet is 2 in front of her and letting a little gap open in front of her.
2:30.7 next two laps
14:55 at 4,800 Japanese are off front and it bunched up a second as the Kenyans were in front
15:32.1 halfway sally kipyego in front now
The race is on that lap was 71.4
71.4 Kipyego pushing it. Lisa and Janet dropped. Amy Hastings in 8th.
Kidane now goes to front.
19:46 at 6,400 so that was roughly 4:49 - other miles havebeen closer to 5:00
Amy Hastings now dropped.
2:29.9 through 6,800. Kidane now is pushing pace again.
68.91 - 7 laps remain and Kidane has opened it up. Kiadane and Dibaba 1-2 Chepkirui drops out ...
71.07 - 6 in lead pack. Kidane still in front, then Cheruiyot, Kipegyo, Dibaba, then gap to two more.
71.91 - Kidane still leads, 61.  It's down to 4. 5 to go.
72.39 - 4 left. 1,500 meters to go Kipyego to the lead.
72.15 just before three to go. Dibaba from 4th to 2nd ... Kipyego, Dibaba, Cheruiyot, Kidane
71.97 two to go.
68.10 10+ meter lead. Dibaba to lead 530 to go. past Kipyego. No real response. 10 meter lead.
62.08 ... Kipyego 2nd.

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