Ethiopian Woman Sets World Record in 5,000

By Elliott Denman Off the BASN Sports Wire
Updated: January 30, 2005
Tirunesh Dibaba
Tirunesh Dibaba

BOSTON, MA.—Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar of Ethiopia put their nation’s stamp on the Boston Indoor Games on Saturday, delivering a world-record performance and one near record.

Their countryman Kenenisa Bekele, the Olympic champion at 10,000 meters and the silver medalist in the 5,000, had no such luck at the Reggie Lewis Track and Field Center. He miscounted the laps in the 3,000, sprinting a lap too early and running out of gas; Alistair Cragg of Ireland won in 7 minutes 39.89 seconds. Bekele was second in 7:41.42.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” said Cragg, who was a nine-time N.C.A.A. champion at Arkansas. “Maybe he wasn’t feeling good or whatever. Maybe his mind wasn’t on the race. I made my move straight after he realized he’d made a mistake, and that was it.”

Dibaba outclassed her competition, which included her older sister Ejegayehu Dibaba, to win the women’s 5,000 meters in world-record time. Her finish in 14:32.93 demolished the indoor record of 14:39.29 by another Ethiopian, Berhane Adere, set last year in Germany. Dibaba collected a $25,000 bonus for the performance.

Cheered on by many Ethiopian fans in the crowd of 4,000, the 19-year-old Tirunesh Dibaba, a bronze medalist in the 5,000 at the Athens Olympics, ran the final 1,000 meters in 2:46.7.

“The money was not a major thought for me,” she said. “The fans made me run faster. Two months ago, my training was not going well and I never thought I could do such a thing. Then things changed. I will go home with some very good memories.”

Ejegayehu Dibaba, 22, the silver medalist in the 10,000 in Athens, kept pace through 3,000 meters but settled for a distant second in 14:58.25. The former Stanford star Lauren Fleshman was third in 15:35.25.

Defar, the women’s Olympic champion in the 5,000, won the 3,000 in 8:30.05, nine-tenths of a second off the record set by Adere in 2002.

In the men’s shot-put, the former Dartmouth star Adam Nelson, the Olympic silver medalist, won with a distance of 71 feet ¾ inches, over Christian Cantwell (68-8½) and John Godina (67-10¼).