Athletics: Ayana eclipses Dibaba to lead 5,000m sweep

Almaz Ayana led an Ethiopian medals sweep in the women's 5,000m on Sunday as 1,500m winner Genzebe Dibaba had to settle for bronze at the world championships in Beijing. In cool conditions after heavy rain, Ayana ran a championships record 14min 26.83sec to win comfortably from Senbere Teferi, who put on a late surge to pip Dibaba by seven-hundredths. Dibaba, younger sister of 5,000m world record-holder Tirunesh, had already won the 1,500m, but Ayana's pace over the last five laps put paid to her hopes of a double. "I had to win the gold medal!" said Ayana.

"It was a hard race and a hard competition in general. It is great for our country that we won gold, silver and bronze." Dibaba said she was "not disappointed" with bronze and added that she had been hampered by a heel injury since winning her maiden world championships gold in the 1,500m. "My country won three medals, I can only be pleased about that," Dibaba said.

"It was a really hard race. I've had so many races recently and after the 1,500m final, my left foot started to pain me -- I have a heel spur that hurts a lot. "This race was so tough for me because of this injury. My shape (fitness) was at its best."

Dibaba, whose world record in the 1,500m in Lausanne last month was the fourth she currently holds, looked comfortable for the first half of the race. Japanese pair Misaki Onishi and Ayuko Suzuki raced out to an early lead, tracked by Dibaba in the 12-and-a-half lap event.

The chase group comprised the Ethiopians Dibaba, Ayana and Teferi, Kenyan quartet Viola Kibiwot, Mercy Cherono, Irene Cheptai and Janet Kisa, and Ethiopian-born Bahraini Mimi Belete. With seven laps to go, the Japanese were dropped and an Ayana surge, tracked by Dibaba and Cherono, strung out the 15-woman field.

Some 800 metres later and the Ethiopian duo were out by themselves. Ayana, who was only competing in the 5,000m, kicked again and built up a 50-metre lead on Dibaba, her eyes glued to the big screen as she monitored her pursuer's position. Ayana hit the bell for the last lap even further ahead and she maintained her advantage for a comprehensive victory.

Dibaba's woes were compounded when a fast-finishing Teferi caught her at the line to take silver in 14:44.07. "The tactics were not prepared but three Ethiopian girls on the podium is very important for our federation and athletics in our country," said Teferi.

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