Tirunesh Dibaba wins the Great Manchester Run (© Dan Vernon / organisers)
Three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba will return to action at the Great Manchester Run on 22 May, having not competed since her victory at the 2014 edition of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Dibaba, the 5000m world record-holder and a five-time world champion on the track, took the 2015 season off after giving birth to son Nathan Sileshi last March.
The Ethiopian won Olympic gold over 5000m and 10,000m in 2008 and successfully defended her title in the longer event in 2012. This year she aims to become the first athlete in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles at 10,000m.
Victory in Manchester in May will give the 30-year-old another treble – having won the Great Manchester Run in 2013 and 2014.
“I'm very excited to return to the Great Manchester Run,” said Dibaba, who set a course record of 30:49 when winning in 2013.
“I have competed there many times, I have always enjoyed it and it will be the perfect race for me to begin my preparations for winning a gold medal in Rio.”
Dibaba will take on two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and 2014 European cross-country champion Gemma Steel.
Kiplagat ran 2:22:36 to finish third at the Tokyo Marathon in February and hopes to be selected for Kenya’s Olympic team.
“The goal is to be selected for the Olympics, and now I must wait having achieved a good result in Tokyo,” said the 36-year-old. “There is plenty of competition among Kenyan marathon runners and I have done all I can.
“I always enjoy running the Great Manchester Run, and it will be a good test of my fitness and preparations, looking ahead to the Olympics.”
Steel, meanwhile, will not be targeting this year’s Olympics following a 2015 season that was blighted by illness and injury. Instead, the 30-year-old is aiming to compete in the half marathon at the European Championships in July and sees next month’s race in Manchester as an important stepping stone.
“It has been tough over the past couple of months, with the disappointment of missing the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff,” said Steel, whose 10km PB of 31:27 makes her the third-fastest British woman of all time. “I’m feeling a lot better, and my training is starting to pick up, so I’m getting back to where I need to be.
“There’s a lot of competition in Manchester but I always look forward to this event and it will be a good marker for how my preparations are going, with the European Championships in Amsterdam high up on the agenda.”
Organisers for the IAAF