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Silver lining for Cherono in Dibaba masterclass

TIRUNESH-GOLDMOSCOW, August 11 – Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba produced an effortless masterclass in middle-distance running to win a third world 10,000m title at the World Athletics Championships on Sunday.

Dibaba clocked 30min 43.37sec, with Gladys Cherono of Kenya taking silver (30:45.17), and Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira claiming bronze (30:46.98).

Dibaba can rightly be lauded as queen of the 10km event, having also won two Olympic golds over the distance.

The 27-year-old missed the Daegu worlds in 2011 because of injury but has never lost in her 10 outings over 25 laps of the track.

The self-proclaimed “baby-faced destroyer”, a nickname she professes to adore, comes in the mould of male compatriots, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.

Four world golds (5,000m in 2003 and 2005, 10,000m in 2005 and 2007), three Olympic golds (the double in 2008 and 10,000m gold in 2012) as well as two 5,000m Olympic bronzes (2004 and 2012) is testimony to her dominance.

She also has four golds and two silvers from the world cross-country championships.

“I wasn’t anxious and I didn’t feel any pressure,” said the cool Dibaba, downplaying the fact she would not be going for the double.

“I have competed in the world championships many times and this is my fifth gold medal.

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“I’m not disappointed I’m not going for the double because we have many young talented runners in our federation and they need their chance, too.”

The race itself played directly into Dibaba’s hands, American Shalane Flanagan taking up the early running, followed by Japan’s Hitomi Niiya, with Oljira and Dibaba close on their tails.

The Kenyan trio did not feature the 2011 world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who is on maternity leave from the sport, but Emily Chebet, Cherono and Sally Chepyego were a powerful threesome on the track all the same.

After five laps, a 10-strong pack had developed with the field strung out, lightning flashes and peels of thunder ripping over the Luzhniki Stadium.

Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, took them through the 3km mark in 9:20.85 as the rain began to fall before Niiya hit out on her own.

She was soon reeled in by the pack, the 32-year-old Flanagan falling off the pace and Dibaba sitting on the Japanese runner’s shoulder through the halfway marker.

Although the pace was anything but electrifying, the pack was now cut to Niiya leading Dibaba and Oljira, the Kenyan trio and Bahrain’s Ethiopian-born Shitaye Eshete.

Chepyego and Eshete were next to fall off the Japanese’s pace-setting, Dibaba looking completely untroubled.

The rain eased off as the storm worked its way around the stadium and with two laps to go Niiya still had the lead.

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At 600 metres, Dibaba and Oljira briefly communicated and on the bell, the former bolted.

She was chased down the back stretch by Cherono, the 2012 African champion over both 5000m and 10,000m making her debut at a global championship at the age of 30, but to no avail as the Ethiopian held out for a very comfortable win.

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