Tirunesh Dibaba in the womens 10,000m at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (© Getty Images)
Tirunesh Dibaba regained her IAAF World Championships 10,000m title after a six year hiatus with a blistering 59.96 last lap to shake off all challengers and win her third title in 30:43.35.
The victory in the Russian capital also maintained Dibaba’s unbeaten streak over 25 laps of the track: 11 races started, 11 races won, a record that also includes two Olympic titles in 2008 and 2012.
As the race developed, it became ever-more apparent that there could be only one winner, in the absence of her team mate Meseret Defar, who has decided to concentrate on the 5000m.
The pace was never quite quick enough to trouble Dibaba and the trio of Kenyans, without 2011 champion Vivian Cheriuyot who is expecting her first baby, seemed unwilling to try to take the sting out of Dibaba's renowned finish by working together and making the second half of the race fast enough to give Dibaba some concerns.
Shalane Flanagan audaciously drove the pace at the front for the first 3000m, towing the field through relatively even kilometres of 3:07.57, 6:13.92 and then 9:20.85.
Japan’s Hitomi Niiya then took the lead halfway around the eighth lap.
The main pack by now numbered nine as Niiya passed 4000m in 12:26.25; the leading group consisting of Niiya, Bahrain’s Shitaye Eshete, three Kenyans, a trio of Ethiopians and Flanagan, who had drifted to the back of the principal protagonists.
Niiya injected a little pace over the next kilometre, passing the halfway point in 15:30.28 but it was only enough to drop Ababel Yeshaneh, the Ethiopian reserve who replaced Defar.
Shortly afterwards, Flanagan started to struggle and soon there was a 20-metre gap between the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and the seven women in front of her, who were running in single file just as they had done since the early stages of the race.
Niiya continued to do all the hard work at the front but eased off the pedal which, as the last lap would prove, perfectly played into Dibaba’s hands.
Six laps from home, the race briefly took on an appearance of a ‘devil-take-the hindmost’ event as Kenya’s Sally Chepyego and then Eshete started to suffer before Niiya passed 8000m in 24:48.66.
At 9000m, the effort of being at the front for more than five kilometres started to take its toll on Niiya and while she was still to the fore, there was a grimace etched across her face while the four women behind her looked relatively comfortable in their running.
Finally, the inevitable happened 480m from home and Dibaba went to the front for the first time as the Kenyan pair of Gladys Cherono and 2013 IAAF World Cross Country Championships gold medallist Emily Chebet followed her past Niiya, along with Dibaba’s team-mate Belaynesh Oljira.
Once in front, Dibaba never relinquished her lead and, at the sound of the bell, she quickly put 10 metres between herself and Cherono. Although the 2012 African champion valiantly continued to chase, Cherono could never get close to her Ethiopian opponent.
Cherono crossed the line in 30:45.17 while Oljira took bronze in 30:46.98, just holding off the fast-closing Chebet by 0.04 after seemingly looking to have third place locked up 100m from home.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF