Genzebe Dibaba in action at the IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: women’s 5000m – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

Perhaps the biggest obstacle Genzebe Dibaba must overcome in her attempt to win the 5000m is the competition timetable.

The Ethiopian distance runner has been in incredible form this summer, having finally made a successful transition from the indoor season to the outdoor one. After setting a world indoor 5000m record, Dibaba has been just as impressive outdoors, breaking the world 1500m record in Monaco with her stunning 3:50.07 performance.

Her form in both events has been so good that she has decided to double up in Beijing. The only downside is that she faces five races in total, the last of which will be the 5000m final on 30 August, so she may go into the final with tired legs.

Arch rival Almaz Ayana, meanwhile, will be relatively fresh as she will be contesting just the 5000m in Beijing. And the Ethiopian is a real danger; in Shanghai earlier this year, Ayana clocked a world-leading 14:14.32. At the very least, she will want to improve on her bronze medal from two years ago.

Dibaba and Ayana have clashed just once this year, but their 5000m battle in Paris was an odd one. Ayana was under the impression it was a world record attempt and that they would share the leading duties during the latter half. Dibaba simply approached it as a tactical race and ran for the win – which she duly did, finishing six seconds ahead of Ayana.

But Ayana will want to make amends for that. She beat Dibaba twice last year, too, finishing almost 10 seconds ahead of her at the African Championships.

Their race in Paris showed that Dibaba has the better kick, so Ayana’s best chance – bearing in mind Dibaba’s tough schedule – could be to make it a fast race from the outset. Either way, it will be an intriguing duel.

That’s not to say that it’s a two-woman race, though. Kenya’s Mercy Cherono took silver in Moscow two years ago, but is even faster this year, having clocked PBs of 14:34.10 for 5000m and 4:01.26 for 1500m.

Team-mate Viola Kibiwot will be another athlete looking to do better than in Moscow. The 31-year-old finished just outside the medals on that occasion, but is a good championship performer and may be dangerous in a tactical race.

Just like Dibaba, Cherono and Kibiwot, Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi produced her best time of the year in that race in Paris. The 20-year-old world cross-country silver medallist clocked a PB of 14:36.44, but may find it difficult to get among the medals.

Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes have filled the top four places in the women’s 5000m at the IAAF World Championships for the past 10 years, and that looks set to continue in Beijing.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF