Genzebe Dibaba after winning 3000m gold at the 2014 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot
Four laps into the women’s 3000m final, the stadium announcer described the pace as “relatively sedate,” which was putting it very mildly.
The 12-woman field passed 400m in 1:22 and 800m in 2:46, and many people wondered whether we were watching a Sunday afternoon stroll along Sopot Pier, the longest wooden pier in Europe, or a championship race.
Any chance of Genzebe Dibaba troubling the record books – the championship record books, let alone the global one in which she had made three marks this season – had been blown out of the water. Elly van Hulst’s 8:33.82, already a quarter of a century old, would survive for at least another two years.
Dibaba was one of the chief dawdlers, setting off second to last, with Dutch runner Sifan Hassan bringing up the rear.
The lethargy lasted for 900m. At that point Hiwot Ayalew hit the front, drawing Dibaba, her Ethiopian team-mate, through into second place. With seven laps to go, Dibaba assumed the lead, waiting until the final 400 metres before putting her foot on the gas.
Winner of the 1500m crown in Istanbul two years ago, she finished 2.68 clear in 8:55.04. The final kilometre was completed in 2:38.94, the first in 3:24.50 and her last 1500m was covered in 4:04.
Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, the defending champion, took silver in 8:57.72 with Bahrain’s Maryam Jamal claiming the bronze medal ahead of former world junior champion Irene Jelegat, of Kenya, and the fading Hassan.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF