London 2012 Olympics: Women’s endurance events form guide

Summary of the top five contenders in all of the women’s endurance events at the London 2012 Olympics

Mary Keitany (Mark Shearman)


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After three low-key years following her Beijing 2008 triumph, Pamela Jelimo is back in form. She won the World Indoors and leads the world rankings with 1:56.76. The only blemish on her record this summer is a defeat to Ethiopian youngster Fantu Magiso, who will be a strong threat but hasn’t competed since early June.

World champion Mariya Savinova leads the Russian charge, alongside team-mate Yelena Arzhakova who recently won the European title. If Alysia Montano doesn’t go off too fast, she could get among the medals.

Form guide

1 Pamela Jelimo (KEN)
2 Mariya Savinova (RUS)
3 Fantu Magiso (ETH)
4 Yelena Arzhakova (RUS)
5 Alysia Montano (USA)


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One year after being in the doldrums, this event is now one of the highest-quality in the world with 12 women having run sub-four minutes this year. Following world leader Mariem Alaoui Selsouli’s positive drugs test, Ethiopia’s Abeba Aregawi is the fastest of the entrants with her 3:56.54. European champion Asli Cakir defeated her in Paris, but a tactical race may suit Aregawi better.

Russia has an embarrassment of riches in this event, with national champion Yekaterina Kostetskaya and former world champion Tatyana Tomashova – back from a drugs ban – leading the charge. After a superb start to the year, Genzebe Dibaba has lost her momentum somewhat.

Form guide

1 Abeba Aregawi (ETH)
2 Asli Cakir (TUR)
3 Yekaterina Kostetskaya (RUS)
4 Genzebe Dibaba (ETH)
5 Tatyana Tomashova (RUS)


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World record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba is currently only named as a reserve, but the Ethiopian federation could simply be playing mind games and may well draft her into the team after the 10,000m. If she is on the start line, she looks to be the only woman capable of beating double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot.

Meseret Defar came close to beating Cheruiyot in Rome this year, but the Ethiopian has disappointed at the past two World Championships. Viola Kibiwot and Sally Kipyego will ensure a strong Kenyan presence.

Form guide

1 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH)*
2 Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN)
3 Meseret Defar (ETH)
4 Viola Kibiwot (KEN)
5 Sally Kipyego (KEN)

* currently named as a reserve, but possibility of running


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Back in form after a couple of years of injury, Tirunesh Dibaba is favoured to successfully defend her Olympic 10,000m and could even do so in the 5000m if given a last-minute spot. Vivan Cheruiyot will be looking to match her two golds from last year’s World Championships.

World silver medallist Sally Kipyego appears a better bet for a medal than Dibaba’s Ethiopian team-mates – Belaynesh Oljira and Worknesh Kidane.

Form guide

1 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH)
2 Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN)
3 Sally Kipyego (KEN)
4 Belaynesh Oljira (ETH)
5 Worknesh Kidane (ETH)


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Expect this to be an all Kenyan-vs-Ethiopian affair. The Kenyan team features African record-holder Mary Keitany and the top two from the World Championships – Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo.

But the Ethiopian team is also strong with three sub-2:20 athletes, including Rotterdam winner Tiki Gelana and Dubai champion Aselefech Mergia.

Form guide

1 Mary Keitany (KEN)
2 Edna Kiplagat (KEN)
3 Tiki Gelana (ETH)
4 Priscah Jeptoo (KEN)
5 Aselefech Mergia (ETH)

3000m steeplechase

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World champion Yuliya Zaripova has raced over the barriers just once this year, but her solo 9:09.99 is more impressive than the faster times achieved by some of her opponents this year in pace-made races. The Russian has also smashed her 1500m PB with 4:01.70, so is clearly in form.

Team-mate and world record-holder Gulnara Galkina is back in action, but might not be quick enough to hang with the likes of world leader Milcah Chemos and world silver medallist Habiba Boudraa.

Form guide

1 Yuliya Zaripova (RUS)
2 Milcah Chemos (KEN)
3 Habiba Boudraa (TUN)
4 Sofia Assefa (ETH)
5 Gulnara Galkina (RUS)

20km walk

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Olga Kaniskina’s reign is under serious threat. The Russian is undefeated at major championships since 2007, but she was beaten by young team-mate Yelena Lashmanova at this year’s World Cup. London will be just the third 20km race Lashmanova has ever contested, and these Games could propel her into the forefront of race walking.

Liu Hong has been a consistent championship performer in recent years, as has Anisya Kirdyapkina.

Form guide

1 Yelena Lashmanova (RUS)
2 Olga Kaniskina (RUS)
3 Liu Hong (CHN)
4 Anisya Kirdyapkina (RUS)
5 Liu Xiuzhi (CHN)

» All of the above are bite-sized versions of AW‘s Olympic Games preview. For the full version – including rankings, features, stats and predictions – get the latest copy of Athletics Weekly, out now.

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