Women’s 3,000 Preview: Genzebe Dibaba’s Time To Shine – Can Grunewald Or Rowbury Somehow Steal Bronze?

by LetsRun.com
March 4, 2014

The #1 story in women’s track and field so far in 2014 has been the three world record runs put up by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba so far this year – first at 1,500 (3:55.71), then at 3,000 (8:16.60) and then at 2 miles (9:00.48).

Given those accomplishments, Dibaba is the huge favorite in the women’s 3,000 at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

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Dibaba, the younger sister of Tirunesh – arguably the greatest long distance runner in history – has always shown a ton of promise. 2010 world junior gold at 5,000, the largest margin of victory ever at 1,500 at World Indoors in 2012 (two full seconds) and early season 3:57s in both 2012 and 2013. This year that promise has come to full fruition.

Dibaba did make one big mistake, however. In obliterating the previous 3,000 world indoor mark of 8:23.72 by 7 + seconds, she made it really hard for herself to break the world record at Worlds. And that’s a shame as there is a $50,000 bonus for setting a world record at 2014 World Indoors ($40,000 for first).

Behind Dibaba, the field is full of quality as shown here:

3,000 Metres W DOB PR (o=outdoor) 2014 Best Comment
Genzebe DIBABA ETH 2/8/1991 8:16.60 8:16.60 Barring last-minute injury or illness, the recent indoor WR setter at 1,500, 3,000 and 2 miles should take the title with no problem.
Hellen Onsando OBIRI KEN 12/13/1989 8:29.99 8:29.99 Reigning champ in the event. Also won the bronze in the 1,500 at Worlds last summer. Still needs a miracle to beat Dibaba’s A game.
Irene JELAGAT KEN 12/10/1988 8:40.75 8:40.75 5th at 2010 World Indoors in 1,500.
Maryam Yusuf JAMAL BRN 9/16/1984 8:28.87 o 8:43.16 5 medals in global championships, including golds at 2007 and 2009 Worlds in the 1,500. 3:56.18 1,500 PR is 2nd in field only to Dibaba, but that came back in 2006. Did get the bronze in the 1,500 at the 2012 Olympics, so the racing savvy and finishing kick might still be there. Is always a potential threat for a medal.
Hiwot AYALEW ETH 3/6/1990 8:43.29 8:43.29 Silver medal at 2013 World Cross-Country and 2-time top-5 placer at steeple global championships.
Almaz AYANA ETH 11/21/1991 8:43.47 8:43.47 Bronze medalist at 2013 Worlds in 5,000.
Sifan HASSAN NED 93 8:32.53 o 8:45.32 Briefly had the WL in early Feb. in beating Viola Kibiwot and Maryam Jamal.
Betlhem DESALEGN UAE 11/13/1991 8:46.54 8:46.54 Asian champ at 1,500 and 5,000 last year.
Alia Saeed MOHAMMED UAE 5/18/1991 8:48.27 8:48.27 22 years old. Silver in 10,000 at last year’s Asian Champs.
Elena KOROBKINA RUS 11/25/1990 8:50.42 8:51.48 WChamps finalist last summer. Russian 3,000 champ this season.
Margherita MAGNANI ITA 2/26/1987 8:51.81 8:51.81
Renata PLIS POL 2/5/1985 8:40.42 o 8:53.74
Gabriele GRUNEWALD USA 7/25/1986 8:42.64 o 8:53.87 The US champ has a good kick and a fast 1,500 PR but will need a massive PR to contend if the pace is fast.
Lucy VAN DALEN NZL 11/18/1988 8:53.95 8:53.95
Natalya ARISTARKHOVA RUS 10/31/1989 8:50.76 8:57.03
Svitlana SHMIDT UKR 3/20/1990 8:41.01 9:01.30
Shannon ROWBURY USA 9/19/1984 8:31.38 o 9:11.74 2009 bronze medalist at 1,500 (and 2-time Olympic finalist) also finished 7th at Worlds last year in the 5,000. Seems to be coming into form after a slow start this season.
Ancuta BOBOCEL ROU 10/3/1987 8:52.86 9:26.01

Barring a huge choke by Dibaba (although it should be pointed out that despite running 3:57 for 1500 in both 2013 and 2012 she didn’t medal either year outdoors), the question really is who gets silver and bronze. The leading candidate for silver is the reigning champion Hellen Obiri who is #2 on the world list in 2014 at 8:29.99.The battle for bronze is full of worthy of candidates.

Genzebe Dibaba

Genzebe Dibaba

The second Ethiopian entrant in the field – whether it ends up being Hiwot Ayalew (top 5 in steeple in both 2012 and 2013, 14:49 5k pb) or Almaz Alyana (bronze at 2013 Worlds, 14:25 in 2013) – will be in the hunt for a medal for sure. Alyana was only 5th in Stockholm in her lone race of 2014 but that was on February 6th – a lot of time for the 14:25 performer to get much fitter.

The second Kenyan in the field Irene Jelagat, who was a world junior champ in 2006 at 1500 and 5th at World Indoors in the 1500 in 2010, is pretty inexperienced in the distance events. Here listed 5000 pb is 16:08 but she can’t be discounted as she’s run 8:40 this year.

Two-time world 1500 champion Maryam Jamal, who has won 8 global medals in the 1500, is attempting to win her first global medal on the track at an event besides the 1500. Jamal was awful in Gemany on February 1st (8:56 3000) but rebounded to win the Asian champs in 8:43.16.

If a European medals, we expect it to be Ethiopian born Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who won her only 3000 of the year in 8:45. Russian champ Yelena Korobkina was last in the 1500 final at Worlds in Moscow.

As for the Americans, after a lot of controversy, Gabe Grunewald and Shannon Rowbury are both here. Given the fact they’ve both run 4:00 and 4:01 for 1500 for their careers, they likely want it to be a slow race (Rowbury’s pb of 8:31 is actually quite good but she’s not in that form early in 2014). Grunewald’s pb is just 8:53 so she clearly doesn’t want it to be fast from the gun as six women in the field have already run 8:45 this year.

Quick Take #1: In the history of Worlds (this is the 15th meet (16th if you count the 1985 World Indoor Games in Paris), Americans have three times won a medal at 3000. Lynn Jennings, Joan Nesbit and Shayne Culpepper won bronze in 1993, 1995 and 2004 respectively.

LRC Prediction: Dibaba gold, Obiri silver. Bronze – ??. In our ranking of the 12 US mid-d and distance runner’s medal prospects for 2012 Worlds, we put Grunewald and Rowbury at the bottom of the list. However, it’s a testament to the strength of US distance running that we can not rule out them somehow medalling. The top 2 are very good. After that, no one has shown supreme form in 2014.

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