Statisticians A Lennart Julin and Mirko Jalava look back on the best long-distance performances of the year
It was a phenomenal season in the women’s 5000m. Ethiopian duo Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba produced the third and fourth-fastest times in history behind only Tirunesh Dibaba’s world record of 14:11.15 and Meseret Defar’s 14:12.88, both from 2008. Ethiopia now has the top four places on the world all-time list.
At the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, 24-year-old Ayana, whose best time before 2015 was 14:25.84 in Paris 2013, passed 3000m in 8:36.53 before narrowly missing the world record in a huge personal best and world lead of 14:14.32.
Genzebe Dibaba then tried to break the world record in Paris, winning comfortably against Ayana with times of 14:15.41 and 14:21.97 respectively.
But Ayana, the bronze medallist in Moscow two years ago, was unbeatable in Beijing, dropping Dibabaearly in the race and covering the final 3000m in 8:19.92 to win in 14:26.83. Dibaba was caught on the final straight and passed by compatriot Senbebe Teferi, who took the silver in 14:44.07 with Dibaba finishing in 14:44.14 for the bronze. For the second World Championships in a row, 31-year-oldKenyan Viola Kibiwot finished fourth.
The Ethiopian sweep of medals also maintained the all-Kenya/Ethiopia dominance of this event at the World Championships for the past decade.
Dibaba also recorded two more fast wins with 14:19.76 in Eugene and 14:21.29 in Oslo. With her 14:15.41 personal best, this trio of times is by far the best during one season. Older sister Tirunesh ran 14:23.46 in her second-fastest race in 2008, when she set the standing world record. Source: IAAF.org