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Dibaba planning long-distance double PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 August 2008

BEIJING, Aug 14 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - World 10,000-metre champion Tirunesh Dibaba says she expects to run both the 10,000 and 5,000m events in Beijing, hoping to become the first woman to scoop the Olympic distance double.

In 2005 Dibaba became the first woman to win both races at a world championships when she led an Ethiopian podium sweep in both events in Helsinki.

She retained the 10,000 title in Osaka last year after suffering from abdominal pain mid-race but skipped the 5,000 days later.

"My expectation is that I will run both," she told Reuters after arriving in Beijing. "It's being said that it's a little hot here, so the final decision will be made after the 10,000."

The Ethiopian 10,000m team includes her sister Ejegayehu who narrowly and embarrassingly lost gold to China's Xing Huina at the 2004 Olympics, and Mestawet Tufa.

The elder Dibaba has painful memories of Athens when she thought she had won the 10,000m final and did not react when the Chinese athlete, whom she thought was a lapped runner, swept past her in the final metres of the race.

In the 5,000m team will be the defending champion Meseret Defar, whose world record Tirunesh Dibaba slashed by 3 seconds in June, and the African champion Meselech Melkamu. Dibaba took bronze in Athens.

"I'm in great condition," Defar said after running 14:12.88 in Stockholm last month. "It's given me a great feeling before the Olympics."

The women's 10,000 metres is the first medal event on the track on Friday's opening day of the athletics programme, with the 5,000 final a week later.

Ethiopia is also strongly represented on the men's side where Kenenisa Bekele, gold medallist four years ago over 10,000m, is expecting to double up in both distance events.

Sileshi Sihine and 1996 and 2000 10,000 metres champion Haile Gebrselassie complete a high quality team for the longer race.

The men's double was last achieved at the Olympics by Ethiopian Miruts Yifter in 1980. The 10,000 was added to the women's programme in 1988 with the 5,000 arriving in 1996.

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