The highly publicized 3000m duel between a trio of gold medalists from the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 was supposed to be one of the highlights of the 2015 IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich and so it proved, with Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana coming out on top on Thursday.
Almaz and her compatriot Genzebe Dibaba, respectively the 5000m and 1500m world champions in Beijing, were helped initially by the Kenyan pacemaker Lydia Wafula, who took the pair through 1000m in 2:49.92, putting them nicely on course for a fast time below 8:30.
Poland’s Renata Plis then took over but the two Ethiopians wanted a faster pace than she could deliver and so, with just over three laps to go, Almaz went to the front, towing Dibaba behind her as she passed 2000m in 5:35.36.
With two laps to go, the gap between the two Ethiopians and the rest of the field had grown to about 80 meters.
Many pundits in the stands were assuming that Genzebe was just biding her time before pouncing on Almaz, but the latter has clearly grown in confidence after her world title and had other ideas.
Almaz started to pull away from her great domestic rival with 250 meters to go. Unlike in some other races in the past two years, Genzebe couldn’t respond and it was Almaz who took the honors and crossed the line in 8:22.34, a meeting record and just 0.12 outside her own national record.
Genzebe came home second in 8:26.54 but had the consolation of taking the Diamond Race and the US $40,000 winner-takes-all cheque that goes with it.