Tirunesh Dibaba

Tirunesh Dibaba

Tirunesh Dibaba also known as Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene (Amharic: ጥሩነሽ ዲባባ ቀነኒ; Oromo: Xurunash Dibaabaa Qananii; born June 1, 1985 in Bekoji, Arsi, Ethiopia) is an Ethiopian long distance track athlete and the outdoor 5000 metres world record holder. She is the current Olympic 10,000 metres champion. She has also won four world track titles and five world cross country titles. She is nicknamed the "Baby Faced Destroyer."

Born in the village of Bekoji, Dibaba was the 4th of 6 children. She is a member of the Oromo ethnic group, and was raised in the high-altitude Arsi Zone of the Oromia Region. She began doing athletics at the age of 14. She moved to the capital Addis Ababa in 2000.

Dibaba is part of an athletic family, with older sister Ejegayehu Dibaba winning the silver medal in the 10,000m at the 2004 Summer Olympics and brother Dejene marked as a future star. Their sister Genzebe won the junior race at the 2008 World Cross Country Championships. 1992 and 2000 Olympic champion Derartu Tulu is also their cousin.


Dibaba's first fully international outdoor track event was the 2001 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Running at the age of 15 in women's junior race, she finished 5th. She won the 5000 m silver medal at the 2003 Afro-Asian Games.

Dibaba had great success in the world championships athletics events of 2003, 2005 and 2007. In 2003, Dibaba won the 5000 m in a sprint finish against Marta Dominguez of Spain and Edith Masai of Kenya. She became the youngest athlete ever to win an individual gold medal at the World Championships. So little was known about her that during this race British commentators Steve Cram and Brendan Foster failed to mention her name even once until the final 100 metres. At the 2005 championships, Dibaba produced a blistering finish to out-sprint compatriot Berhane Adere and her own sister Ejegayehu and also became the first woman to win the 10,000/5,000 m double at the same championships. In 2007, when the championships were held in Osaka, Dibaba again utilised her sprint finish to overhaul Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse despite a tumble that happened mid-race and having abdominal pains throughout the race. She became the only woman to win back-to-back 10,000 m titles. In Osaka, Dibaba won with a time of 31:55.41.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Dibaba was beaten into third place by Meseret Defar of Ethiopia and Isabella Ochichi of Kenya in 5000 m event. The result was considered by some to be a disappointment but at 19, she still became the youngest ever medalist for Ethiopia at the Olympics.

In 2006 she won five out of six Golden League events (5000 m) in the same season, which earned her a total of $83,333.

Dibaba is also a remarkably successful cross country runner; she has five IAAF World Cross Country Championships victories, including one junior title (Lausanne, 2003), one short course title (Saint-Galmier, 2005), and two long course titles (Saint-Galmier, 2005, and Fukuoka, 2006). From 2007, there was just one race in each category. Dibaba won the silver in the women's race at Mombasa in 2007 and the gold at Edinburgh in 2008.

Dibaba is known to have an on-track rivalry with Meseret Defar, and races featuring the two are highly anticipated, but rare, usually only occurring at championships.

A major feature of Dibaba's running style is an incredible sprint finish. During the final lap of the 10,000 m in 2005, Dibaba was clocked over the closing 400 m in 58.33 seconds.

Double Olympic gold

Dibaba created a new 5000 metres world record, 14 minutes 11.16 seconds, at the Oslo Golden League 2008 meeting.

Dibaba won 10,000 metres Gold in Beijing Olympic on August 15, 2008, setting a new Olympic record time of 29:54.66; the old record of 30:17.49 had been set by fellow Ethiopian and cousin Derartu Tulu at Sydney Olympic Summer Games back in 2000. The new Olympic record was also the second fastest 10,000 metres of all time and an African record. The previous African record (30:04.18) was held by Berhane Adere, set at the 2003 World Championships.

One week later on August 22, 2008 she won the 5000 metres by beating the defending gold medalist Meseret Defar. Dibaba finished the race in 15:41.40. This olympic double win made her the first ever woman to win both 5000 and 10,000 metres at the same Olympics.

She was named 2008 Track & Field News Athlete of the Year. She also received the IAAF award for the female Performance of the Year for 2008, the same award she already collected in 2005.

Injuries after Beijing Olympics

In 2009 injuries prevented her from competing in the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman and 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin.

On November 15, 2009 she won the Zevenheuvelenloop 15 kilometres race in Nijmegen, Netherlands and beat Kayoko Fukushi's 15 km world record by almost half a minute, finishing in 46:28. This was her first competitive road race since 2005, but she downplayed the idea of moving on to road running, stating that the track remained her priority.

At 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz she couldn't repeat her great performances from previous championships and finished fourth. Dibaba defended her 10,000 m title at 2010 African Championships in Athletics in Nairobi with a time of 31:51.39 ahead of teammate Meselech Melkamu and Linet Masai of Kenya. Her final 400 m was timed at 61 seconds.

Return in 2012

Her career was again beset by injuries and after 16 months out of competition, she returned at the 2011 New Year's Eve San Silvestre Vallecana and won by beating Gelete Burka in a sprint finish. She won the two-mile race at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix and took her second career win at the Carlsbad 5000 in March. In her first outdoor track race of the year, she won the 10,000 m at the Prefontaine Classic by holding off Florence Kiplagat at the line. After London Olympics Tirunesh won in her half marathon debut at the Great North Run in a time of 1:07:35, defeating in the process the Olympic marathon champion Tiki Gelana and the world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat.

2012 London Olympics

She defended her 10,000 metres gold medal on August 3rd with a powerful command performance over the final 600 metres, in a time of 30:20.75, a season's best performance. She became the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic 10,000m titles. After the win she said "I have never been happier than today – this is even better than in Beijing". She again tried to win two gold medals at one Olympics but this time had to be satisfied with bronze medal in 5,000 metres race.

Personal life

Dibaba is married to 2004 and 2008 Olympic 10,000 meter silver medallist Sileshi Sihine.

After the Beijing Olympics her club, the Prisons Police, bestowed the rank of Chief Superintendent for her services to club and country. A hospital named after her is located on the outskirt of Addis Ababa.

She has ventured into the hotel industry by establishing a Three Star hotel named after her set to begin service end of 2013. Local based Kellog Consult a design and construction firm has won the bid to design and construct the hotel at $1.8 million.

IAAF Results

Diamond League

Diamond League is an annual series of track and field meets organised by the IAAF and founded in 2010.

2010 Adidas Grand Prix, New York City 5000 m 1st 15:11.34
Aviva London Grand Prix, London 5000 m 1st 14:36.41
2012 Adidas Grand Prix, New York City 5000 m 1st 14:50.80

World Athletics Final

World Athletics Final was an annual athletics competition organised by the IAAF from 2003 to 2009.

2003 Monaco 5000 m 3rd 14:57.87
2005 Monaco 5000 m 2nd 14:46.84
2006 Stuttgart 3000 m 2nd 8:34.74
5000 m 1st 16:04.77
2009 Thessaloniki 5000 m 2nd 15:25.92

Golden League

Golden League was an annual series of track and field meetings organised by the IAAF from 1998 to 2009.

2002 Bruxelles 3000 m 11th 8:41.86
Berlin 5000 m 6th 14:49.90
2003 Oslo 5000 m 3rd 14:39.94
Roma 5000 m 4th 14:41.97
2004 Bergen 5000 m 2nd 14:30.88
Roma 5000 m 4th 14:47.43
2005 Roma 5000 m 1st 14:32.57
2006 Oslo 5000 m 1st 14:30.40
Paris Saint-Denis 5000 m 1st 14:54.24
Roma 5000 m 1st 14:52.37
Zürich 5000 m 1st 14:45.73
Bruxelles 5000 m 1st 14:30.63
Berlin 5000 m 2nd 15:02.87
2007 Paris Saint-Denis 5000 m 1st 15:21.84
2008 Oslo 5000 m 1st 14:11.15
Roma 5000 m 1st 14:36.58

Personal bests


3,000 m 8:29.55 July 28, 2006 London
5,000 m 14:11.15 (WR) June 6, 2008 Oslo
10,000 m 29:54.66 August 15, 2008 Beijing
5 km (road) 14:51 April 3, 2005 Carlsbad
15 km (road) 46:28 (WR) November 15, 2009 Nijmegen
Half Marathon 1:07:35 September 16, 2012 Newcastle


3,000 m 8:33.37 January 26, 2008 Boston
Two miles 9:12.23 February 20, 2010 Birmingham
5,000 m 14:27.42 January 27, 2007 Boston

Tagged as:

Ethiopian, athletes, ethiopian athletes, long distance runners, runners, ethiopian runners, Dibaba, Tirunesh Dibaba, Sports, athletes, Sports


3879 Views Comments

Philemon Rono (KEN) and Marta Megra (ETH) Win the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Defending champion Philemon Rono of Kenya and Marta Megra of Ethiopia win the men and women titles of the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, clocking

4325 Views Comments

Eyob Gebrehiwet (ITA) and Gedo Sule Utura (ETH) Win Huawei Venice Marathon 2017

VENICE, Italy (IAAF)―Eyob Gebrehiwet improved his PB by three minutes to win the 32nd edition of the Huawei Venice Marathon in 2:12:16 on Sunday (Oct.

4648 Views Comments

Virginia Couple Wins North American Wife Carrying Championship

A Virginia couple took home the grand prize--$630 and 12 cases of beer--after competing in the North American Wife Carrying Championship in Maine Saturday. According to