Saturday, February 03, 2007

Record in Stuttgart

Well, we are barely a month in to 2007, but the "Dueling Ds" have picked up their one-upmanship epic battle just where they left it off at the end of 2006. Last weekend, "baby-face destroyer" Tirunesh Dibaba set an indoor world record at 5000M in Boston. So what does Meseret Defar do this weekend? She set her own world indoor record at 3000M in Stuttgart, Germany today. Defar ran an unbelievable 8:23.72, shaving more than four seconds off the previous record. It is astounding that Defar seems to think that she could have gone even faster and dip down to 8:20 range.

To put Defar's performance in perspective, one only needs to see how fast Tirunesh Dibaba ran her own indoor 3000M at the Millrose Games last night. Uncharacteristically, Dibaba could not shake her competition in New York until the final two laps. Sarah Hall doggedely hanged on to Dibaba, though Hall paid for it dearly as she wilted in the last two laps. Admittedly, the short track at the Madison Square Garden was tough to run on, but Dibaba only managed a time of 8:46.58 which would mean that Defar would have nearlly lapped her on a standard 200M indoor track. That is how good Defar's race was!

Dibaba did not look her normal confident self in the New York race, and I would venture to guess that she will not return to the Millrose Games again. It will be interesting to hear her comments on the race. As for Defar, though she set an astonishing world record, she only won the race by 2/100th of a second! Meselech Melkamu, was right on Defar's neck all the way through the finish line and bettered the old world record herself.

This was the first ever indoor race for Melkamu but obviously she was not intimidated by the venue or the competition. She is already an experienced runner with a string of impressive cross-country wins over the past couple of months, including the Ethiopian Championships at Jan Meda in Addis. Melkamu was also the fourth place finisher at the 2005 World Championship 5000M race where Ethiopians made history by sweeping the first four spots.

Roocha fans- 2007 is going to be a very special year, unlike any other before. So fasten your seat belts for an exciting ride courtesy of our Ethiopian runners, who are the world's greatest athletes, as they battle each other at the World Cross Country Championship in Mombassa, Kenya, followed by the European track season, and reaching the climax at the World Track and Field Championship in Osaka, Japan. The latest chapter in the story of Ethiopian women distance running may even turn in to a three-way battle with the "Double M" Meselech Melkamu, thrown in the mix with the "Dueling Ds."


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