2012 Women's Olympic 10,000 Preview: All The Makings Of A Classic - Tirunesh Dibaba Vs. Vivian Cheruiyot

*Race Time 4:25 PM ET Friday

By LetsRun.com
July 30, 2012

The women's 10,000 final is the first Olympic final on the track at the 2012 London Olympics and it features a titanic clash between two distance running heavyweights.

In one corner, you have Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia. The reigning Olymipc 5,000 and 10,000 champ is basically the greatest distance runner in women's history on the track. In addition to her two Olympic golds, she's won four more golds at Worlds on the track and four more golds in cross-country. She's never lost a 10,000-meter race on the track in her life - she's a perfect 7 for 7. And she hasn't lost a track race of any sort since September 12, 2009.

And she's still just barely 27 years old.

In the other corner, you have Kenya's best, Vivian Cheruiyot. With Dibaba out last year with injury, Cheruiyot did a great job of filling in and playing the part of Mrs. Unbeatable as she won the 10,000 and 5,000 at Worlds and also ran a 14:20.87 PR and Kenyan national record in the 5,000. She also has a nice unbeaten streak on the line as well, as she hasn't lost on the track since August 13, 2010.

On paper, this has all the makings of a classic.

12 years ago in Sydney, two of the all-time greats on the men's side - one from Kenya, one from Ethiopia - waged an epic battle. As is the case here, the Ethiopian came in with better credentials, and in the end, he - Haile Gebselassie - ended up the victor, but only after one of the greatest duels in Olympic history, as Kenya's Paul Tergat put up a hell of a fight.

*Video Recap Of Race *Other Video With Worse Picture But Better Commentating

Another great race was the 2008 women's 10,000 in Beijing. When Dibaba won four years ago, she ran the #2 time in history to win in 29:54.66 to win over Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse, who ran the #3 time in history (29:56.34), as American Shalane Flanagan ran an American record (30:22.22) to get third.

Will we get a great race on Friday? We can only hope.

But we're sure you're wanting to know who we think will win.

You may be surprised, but for us to answer that question on paper is an easy one.

Tirunesh Dibaba Is Practically Royalty in Ethiopia
She Is Royalty In Track
*More Dibaba Wedding Photos

Tirunesh Dibaba.

The face of the matter is when healthy, Dibaba's always been better than Cheruiyot.

They've raced 17 times in history and the results database we subscribe to says Dibaba has won 15 of them.

And as for the two losses ... well, we don't even know if they should count. Back in 2001, when Dibaba was 15 years old she finished fifth in the junior race at World Cross-Country where a 17-year-old Vivian Cheruiyot was fourth. And then in 2006, Cheruiyot beat Dibaba when Cheruiyot was 8th at World Cross-Country and Dibaba dropped out.

So basically, Dibaba has only once finished a race and lost to Cheruiyot and that was when she was 15 years old. On the track, Dibaba is a perfect 11-0 against Cheruiyot.

Yes, Kenyan supporters, we know that Dibaba missed all of last year and she hasn't run that fast this year at 5,000 (14:50.80). But she has run fast at 10,000 (30:24.39) and in that 5,000 in New York, she was really actually quite spectacular. One website that we love called it "breathtaking", as she ran her last 1,500 in that race in 4:05 and last lap in 61.54.

More importantly, in that race, Dibaba beat her old Ethiopian nemesis Meseret Defar by 1.78 seconds. When Defar raced Cheruiyot at 5,000 some 10 days before that, Cheruiyot barely prevailed by .03. So history, age and the transitive property all tell us to expect a Dibaba win here.

Yet the bookmarkers don't see it that way at all. They have Cheruiyot as the favorite.

After the top two, who gets third?

Really there are three good options.

Former Texas Tech star Sally Kipyego got the surprise silver last year but was only third at the Kenyan Trials some 2.01 behind 67:03 half marathoner Joyce Chepkirui. The 23-year-old Chepkurui certainly could be in the mix for the bronze, as could 22-year-old Belaynesh Oljira, who ran 30:26.70 at Pre this year after setting the half marathon record in Houston in January at 68:26.

Those three plus the big two - so those five - seem way better than everyone else. Ethiopia's 30-year-old Worknesh Kidane has run 30:07 in the past, but she was way back at Pre (30:50.16). But 30:50.16 is better than the PRs of everyone else in the field, as only six women in the field have ever broken 31:00 in their lives.

QT #1: It's pretty amazing that 30:50.16 is the 5th best PR in this field (Chepkurui's best time is 31:26.10) and only six women in the field have broken 31:00 (Japan's Kayoko Fukushi has run 30:51.81). That fact is proof that the depth in women's running is still not what it is on the men's side, as 63 women in history have gone sub-31 - yet only six are here. For comparison's sake, in men's running, 43 men in history have gone sub 27 and six of them are in London (And it might have also prove that drug testing has gotten a whole lot better).

QT #2: What about the Americans, you ask? Well, they have really zero shot at a medal unless there are some falls or cases of food poisoning. But good races could land a couple of them in the top 10 and possibly one in the top 5 if a top name drops out. Olympic Trials champ Amy Hastings' PR of 31:19.87 is the 8th fastest qualifying time of any of the entrants in the field. We like how she's dreaming big as she recently said, "Fourth place is the same as last place so you might as well go for it." That being said, we think it's important she have a realistic race plan. We'd say go out and try to be the first non-African and then see if you can pick up the pieces if some of them blow up after being too ambitious.

LRC Prediction: 1) Dibaba 2) Cheruiyot 3) Kipyego or Chepkirui - We guess Chepkirui.

The 25 Entrants
Bib #/Name/CountryDOB/Seasonal Best/Personal Best/Qualifying Window Best
1706 DIBABA Tirunesh ETH 1 JUN 1985 30:24.39 29:54.66 30:24.39
1713 OLJIRA Beleynesh ETH 26 JUN 1990 30:26.70 30:26.70 30:26.70
1710 KIDANE Werknesh ETH 7 JAN 1981 30:50.16 30:07.15 30:50.16
2861 GRECHISHNIKOVA Elizaveta RUS 12 DEC 1983 31:07.88 31:07.88 31:07.88
3294 HASTINGS Amy USA 21 JAN 1984 31:19.87 31:19.87 31:19.87
2729 MOREIRA Sara POR 17 OCT 1985 31:23.51 31:23.51 31:23.51
2257 NIIYA Hitomi JPN 26 FEB 1988 31:28.26 31:28.26 31:28.26
2263 YOSHIKAWA Mika JPN 16 SEP 1984 31:28.71 31:28.71 31:28.71
2100 BRITTON Fionnuala IRL 24 SEP 1984 31:29.22 31:29.22 31:29.22
1849 BLEASDALE Julia GBR 9 SEP 1981 31:29.57 31:29.57 31:29.57
1871 PAVEY Joanne GBR 20 SEP 1973 31:32.22 31:12.30 31:32.22
3277 CHEROBON-BAWCOM Janet USA 22 AUG 1978 31:33.50 31:33.50 31:33.50
3323 UHL Lisa USA 31 AUG 1987 31:35.90 31:18.07 31:35.90
1950 MOCKENHAUPT Sabrina GER 6 DEC 1980 31:36.76 31:14.21 31:36.76
2250 FUKUSHI Kayoko JPN 25 MAR 1982 31:43.25 30:51.81 30:54.29
2725 FELIX Ana Dulce POR 23 OCT 1982 31:44.75 31:33.42 31:33.42
2151 EJJAFINI Nadia ITA 8 NOV 1977 31:45.14 31:45.14 31:45.14
3191 SKRYPAK Olha UKR 2 DEC 1990 31:51.32 31:51.32 31:51.32
1641 BARRACHINA Gema ESP 10 APR 1986 32:08.54 31:54.64 32:08.54
2327 CHERUIYOT Vivian Jepkemoi KEN 11 SEP 1983 32:24.52 30:48.98 30:48.98
2324 CHEPKIRUI Joyce KEN 20 AUG 1988 32:24.71 31:26.10 31:26.10
2336 KIPYEGO Sally Jepkosgei KEN 19 DEC 1985 32:26.82 30:38.35 30:38.35
1372 CHEN Rong CHN 18 MAY 1988 33:47.39 31:39.77 31:39.77
1258 ESHETE Shitaye BRN 21 MAY 1990 31:21.57 31:21.57
1084 WELLINGS Eloise AUS 9 NOV 1982 31:41.31 31:41.31

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