The IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 may have only just started, but the women’s 3000m could be remembered as one of the best events of the championships.
Genzebe Dibaba was defending her title against 13 other women in a field that included world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, 2016 world indoor 1500m champion Sifan Hassan and double European indoor champion Laura Muir to name but a few.
The Ethiopian holds numerous world records indoors and out, but tonight was about winning medals, not breaking records. She duly went right to the back of the field, just behind Hassan, as the race got underway.
Muir and British teammate Eilish McColgan wound up as the reluctant early leaders, covering the first lap in 36 seconds and going through 800 metres in 2:35.76. By that point, Obiri had moved into second and Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen had gone into third.
Klosterhalfen moved into the lead just before the end of the first kilometre, which was covered in 3:14.67. Her surge strung out the field, but Dibaba want to get left behind and darted into second place just half a lap later. Teammate Fantu Worku moved up with Dibaba and ran shoulder-to-shoulder with Muir.
Just before half way, which was reached in about 4:42, Obiri and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta made their way through the field towards the front of the pack as Klosterhalfen continued to lead.
Dibaba then hit the front with 1000 metres remaining as the clock read 6:07.62 for the 2000-metre split. Klosterhalfen, Obiri and Muir were close behind and Hassan began to move through the field.
With two laps to go and 7:43 on the clock, Dibaba was starting to open up a gap on her pursuers. Hassan followed four metres behind the defending champion while Muir moved past Obiri into third place.
Hassan and Muir appeared to be gradually closing on Dibaba on the final lap, but it soon became clear they had left themselves with too much work to do; Dibaba was away and gone and crossed the finish line in 8:45.05 to win her third successive world indoor 3000m title.
With a second half of 4:03, a last kilometre of 2:37.43 and a final lap of 30.44 seconds, Dibaba recorded her fastest ever closing splits from her world indoor 3000m victories.
Muir made up ground on Hassan in the closing stages, but the Dutch record-holder managed to hold off the Briton to take silver, 8:45.68 to Muir’s 8:45.78. Obiri, meanwhile, faded on the final lap and finished a distant fourth in 8:49.66, just ahead of USA’s Shelby Houlihan.
“I'm very happy to be world indoor champion for the third time,” said Dibaba, who, along with most of the rest of the 3000m field, will line up for the 1500m heats tomorrow. “This is a great competition and the race was fantastic. This day is for me and my country.
“I wasn't good in 2017, but 2018 is my time.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF