Genzebe Dibaba in the 1500m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 (© Getty Images)
After 500 metres of dawdling, the opening 400-metre split a near-pedestrian 1:16.48, Genzebe Dibaba hit the front. And that was that. In the race for the world indoor 1500m gold medal at least.
As she had done in the 3000m final on Thursday night, the 27-year-old Ethiopian turned the screw from five laps out, winding up the pace to such a degree that none of her rivals could stay with her.
It was a peerless performance. The 2015 world 1500m champion finished a comfortable 0.96 clear of the field in 4:05.27, only the second woman to complete a world indoor 1500m-3000m double. Gabriela Szabo of Romania accomplished the feat in Maebashi in 1999.
It was a fifth individual world indoor title for Dibaba, who won the 1500m in 2012 before a hat-trick of 3000m successes in 2014, 2016 and now 2018. Only four other athletes have achieved that tally: Maria Mutola (both seven), Ivan Pedroso and Stefka Kostadinova (five).
Behind Dibaba, the battle for silver and bronze proved compelling.
Defending champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, silver medallist in the 3000m, settled into second and looked like she might stay there for a silver double.
That was until Britain’s Laura Muir, third in the 3000m, surged through into third with 600 metres to go and started to set her sights higher. Hassan had been obliged to move wide to resist Muir’s home straight challenge in the 3000m but this time the home runner timed her effort to perfection.
To roars from the packed crowd, Muir surged into second with 100 metres to go and stayed there, crossing the line in 4:06.23, with Hassan third in 4:07.26. The three medallists finished well clear of the rest, US champion Shelby Houlihan taking fourth in 4:11.93 ahead of Kenya’s Winny Chebet (fifth in 4:12.08), Jamaica’s Ashia Praught (sixth in 4:12.86) and Kenyan steeplechaser Beatrice Chepkoech (a disappointing seventh in 4:13.59).
“I am so happy to be able to do the double,” said Dibaba, who was troubled by illness when finishing 12th and last in the 1500m final at last year’s World Championships in London. “Last year I was sick but this time I was ready to run for my country.
"Laura was very strong but I am in good shape and that is why I won it. This is a gold for all the people of Ethiopia too."
Muir arrived in Birmingham looking for a first global medal and now has world indoor silver and bronze to add to the two European indoor golds she won in Belgrade a year ago.
“I wanted to get on the podium again,” she said. “I ran my socks off and I came home with the silver this time.”
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF