Dibaba stands out in remarkable Olympic 10,000m By John Bagratuni

Society Materials 15 August 2008 22:45 (UTC +04:00)

The Chinese capital was a fitting place for Tirunesh Dibaba to cement her role as the world's greatest distance runner with the Olympic gold she was still lacking, the dpa reported.

"I wanted to get that beautiful and everlasting gold," Dibaba said through an interpreter after her victory on Friday.

Aged just 22, Dibaba has 5,000m world titles from 2003 and 2005, and 10,000 crowns from 2005 and 2007, before getting gold.

But it was not just the gold that made this late night race so remarkable: it was the times run under a full moon in the packed National Stadium.

Dibaba used her famous kick in the final lap to get gold after 5,000m bronze in 2004 with the second best time in 10,000m history, 29 minutes 54.66 seconds.

Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse, an Ethiopian-born runner, also broke the magic barrier with 29:56.34 minutes.

The two runners became the only athletes besides China's world record holder Wang Junxia (29:31.78 in 1993) to dip below 30 minutes. Shalane Flanagan took the bronze for the US in 30:22.22 minutes.

When the dust had settled the race had produced one Olympic record from Dibaba, three continental records from the medallists, a junior world record from Kenya's Linet Chepkwemoi Masai (30:26.50), four further personal bests and five season bests.

Wang's record has always been met with suspicion as she had a short moment of glory in 1993 along with several team-mates who were all coached by Ma Junren.

The Chinese won the 1,500-10,000m at the August worlds in Stuttgart and then claimed several world records the next month at the National Games in the Workers' Stadium, including Wang's.

Ma attributed the results to a special fungus, but there were always doping concerns, and Ma's career ended in 2000 when six of his athletes - known as "Ma's Army" - failed doping tests.

Dibaba is soft-spoken, but has a "destroyer" image with the last-lap kick no one can follow.

She insists that this move "is natural, very natural" and not trained.

"She is the best athlete in the world. So I don't feel a pity being overtaken by her," said Abeylegesse, who got the best ever Olympic athletics result for Turkey after two previous men's bronze medals.

Beijing would have this been the perfect place to have a go at the record, and Dibaba seemingly had this in mind after already getting the 5,000m record earlier this year.

"It was the right place to break the world record and I had hoped I would but it was not so. Next year, I am sure I'll do it," Dibaba said.

Neither Dibaba nor Abeylegesse could say afterwards whether she would be fit to run the 5,000m in Beijing as well.

Dibaba said that her win likely set off huge celebrations back at home now that the bitter defeat of 2004 - her sister Eyegayehu lost to Xing Huina because she thought the Chinese was lapped - was avenged and Ethiopian pride restored.

"The footsteps of Derartu Tulu (the 2,000 winner) had to repeat themselves," said Dibaba.