Meseret Defar Tola (Amharic: መሰረት ደፋር; born 19 November, 1983 in Addis Ababa) is a female long-distance runner from Ethiopia who competes chiefly in the 3000 metres and 5000 metres events. She has won medals at top-tier international competitions including Olympic and World Championship gold medals over 5000 metres. She broke the world record in the event in 2006, broke it again in 2007 and held it until 2008, when fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba beat her time.
Defar has been successful in the 5000 m at the Olympic Games, taking gold at the 2012 London Olympics, 2004 Athens Olympics and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She has experienced similar success in the World Championships, taking silver in 2005 Helsinki Championships and gold at the 2007 Osaka Championships.
Defar holds the indoor records for the 5000 metres, 3000 metres and two-mile run. She has dominated the 3000 m indoor event, winning the three consecutive gold medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Defar won the 5000 metres gold medal at the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in 2003. She won gold medals in the women's 5000 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens with a time of 14:45.65 and 5000 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She also won bronze medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics.
On 3 June 2006 she ran the 5000 metres in New York City in a then-world record time of 14:24.53 – she subsequently improved the record to 14:16.63 at the Bislett Games in Oslo on 15 June 2007. On 3 February 2007 she ran the 3000 metres indoor in Stuttgart (Germany) in a world record time of 8:23.72. On 20 May 2007 she ran the 2 mile in Carson, California in a world best time of 9:10.47. On 1 September 2007 she won gold in 14:57.91 at 5000 m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, to go along with her Olympic victory and world record. On 14 September 2007, she set a world best (8:58.58) in the women's 2-mile (3.2 km) at the Van Damme Memorial meet, shaving 11.89 seconds off the 9:10.47 mark she set in may at Carson, California. Also in 2007, Defar won the female IAAF World Athlete of the Year award.
She won a silver medal at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, losing only to Tirunesh Dibaba. In 2006 she won the World Indoor Championships over 3000 metres, defending her title from the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships. In the Reebok Boston Indoor meeting of January 2008, Defar ran a time of 9:10.50 in the two-mile (3.2 km) event to establish a new two-mile indoor world best time, breaking the previous indoor best by over twelve seconds.[ Defar won her third consecutive World Indoor gold medal in the 3000 m at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Athletics. At the 2008 African Championships in Athletics, Defar was defeated in the 5000 m by compatriot Meselech Melkamu. At the 2008 Bislett Games, Defar's 5000 m world record was broken by Tirunesh Dibaba. She took a 3000/5000 m double at the 2008 World Athletics Final. Defar began the 2009 athletics season by improving upon her personal bests, setting a new 5000 m world indoor record of 14:24.37 and an indoor world best over two miles (3.2 km) with a 9:06.26 run. She competed in the 10,000 metres event at the British national trials in July, attempting to take a spot on the Ethiopian team at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. In spite of the wet and windy conditions, she ran a personal best of 29:59.20 minutes – breaking Paula Radcliffe's UK all-comers’ record, becoming the fifth woman to run sub-30 minutes, and earning qualification for the Championships in the process.
In Berlin, Meseret was leading the 2009 World Championships in Athletics – Women's 10,000 metres until the last 50 metres when her legs appeared to dramatically tie up, handing the gold medal to Kenya's Linet Masai and was passed by three other athletes, finishing with a time of 30:52.37. She then ran in the 2009 World Championships in Athletics – Women's 5000 metres final and was leading at the top of the home straight, but was passed by two Kenyan with metres to go, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sylvia Kibet. She went on to beat both athletes in the 3000 m at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final a month later, setting a world leading time of 8:30.15 in the process.
Rebounding from her bronze medal championship performance, she scored a fourth straight gold medal in the 3000 m at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Moving on to the road circuit, she won her third title at the Carlsbad 5000, although her time of 15:04 did not trouble her own course record. At the 2010 African Championships in Athletics, she represented Ethiopia in the 5000 m and won the silver medal behind Vivian Cheruiyot. She made her half marathon debut at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and succeeded first time, winning in a time of 1:07:44. This mark improved upon Berhane Adere's fastest time on American soil for the distance and was the fifth fastest ever debut.
|Outdoor||1500 metres||4:02.00||12 June 2010||New York City, New York, United States|
|2000 metres||5:45.62||8 June 2008||Eugene, Oregon, United States|
|3000 metres||8:24.51+||14 September 2007||Brussels, Belgium|
|Two miles||8:58.58||14 September 2007||Brussels, Belgium||World Record|
|5000 metres||14:12.88||22 July 2008||Stockholm, Sweden|
|10,000 metres||29:59.20||11 July 2009||Birmingham, England|
|10 km (road)||32:08||25 February 2007||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Half marathon (road)||67:44||19 September 2010||Philadelphia, United States|
|Indoor||3000 metres||8:23.72||2 February 2007||Brussels, Belgium||World record|
|Two miles||9:06.26||26 February 2009||Prague, Czech Republic||World best|
|5000 metres||14:24.37||18 February 2009||Stockholm, Sweden||World record|
- All information taken from IAAF profile.
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