Three-time Olympic champion overcomes injury woes to target 10km success on May 26
A shin injury might have put an end to Tirunesh Dibaba’s distance dreams for now, but the three-time Olympic champion has continued to set her sights on success on the road, confirming that she will compete at the Bupa Great Manchester Run on May 26.
The Ethiopian, who added victory in the 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics to her gold-medal winning performances in the 5000m and 10,000m at Beijing 2008, would have been making her debut over 26.2 miles at the Virgin London Marathon in April.
But she had to postpone her move up to the longer distance due to a previous problem with her lower leg re-emerging during training and is now adamant that she will be in good condition to challenge for victory over 10km in Manchester at the end of May.
“It will be an honour to see Dibaba on the start line,” said Peter Riley, Elite Athletes Manager of the Bupa Great Manchester Run. “She’s not just a track athlete and world record holder, but also a former world cross country individual champion on four occasions.
“Her performances on the roads cannot be underestimated either. She’s a solid performer over 5k and 10k distances, and she set the world 15k record in 2009. Last year, on her half marathon debut at the Bupa Great North Run, she won a thriller in a very fast time of 1:07:35.
“Having said that, during her career she’s raced sparingly over 10k on the roads. But the distance is made for her and I am certain she will strongly challenge the course record of 31:07 [Berhane] Adere achieved in 2006.
“Maybe if conditions are perfect we could see a major attack on the stellar UK All-Comers’ record of 30:38, which Paula Radcliffe roared to in 2002. It still remains a tough mark but you cannot rule that out.”
Despite only having a two-mile indoor race under her belt this year, the 27-year-old will be eager to add her name to the list of previous winners, which includes fellow Ethiopians Adere and Worknesh Kidane, as well as Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan, Kenyan-born Dutch runner Lornah Kiplagat and Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai.
Only British winners Jo Pavey in 2007 and 2008 and Helen Clitheroe in 2011 have broken the African dominance in a field which will total 40,000 runners.