Here’s a headline liable to leave Ethiopian track fans experiencing déjà vu: “Dibaba Breaks World Indoor Record.”
Those words have twice applied to 28-year-old Tirunesh Dibaba, a three-time Olympian with three gold medals to her name, but this weekend, it was Tirunesh’s little sister Genzebe racing into the spotlight.
Competing on Saturday, February 1, at the IAAF Indoor Permit meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany, Genzebe Dibaba set a new women’s world indoor 1500-meter record, stunning spectators with a time of 3:55.17.
That’s more than three seconds faster than the previous mark, 3:58.28, set by Russia’s Yelena Soboleva in 2006, and it’s more than four seconds faster than Genzebe’s previous indoor personal best of 4:00.13, IAAF.org reports.
The 22-year-old got out to a fast start, letting Slovenia’s Sonja Roman lead her through the first 400 meters in 1:02.39. By the time Dibaba had reached 800 meters, her time of 2:08.96 put her nearly a second ahead of where Soboleva had been at the same point in her 2006 record-setting performance.
Not long afterward, Dibaba took the lead, and facing only the clock, she remained on a record-breaking pace. She hit 1200 meters in 3:10.47—more than two seconds faster than Soboleva’s 3:13.1—and kept the intensity all the way to the finish, besting runner-up Angelika Cichocka of Poland by nearly 13 seconds.
After the race, Dibaba remarked on the “very fast” track that Karlsruhe organizers have put down since last year, when she won the same event for the second year in a row.
Dibaba’s three-peat at Karlsruhe comes roughly a month before the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, where she’ll defend the 1500-meter title that she earned in 2012.
“I felt I was ready for a world record,” Dibaba said, according to the IAAF. “But I didn’t think I would run 3:55. I was well prepared for tonight, though. I’m extremely happy.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg