Like a DJ with a bad temper, Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba is smashing records left and right.
Competing on Saturday, February 1, at the XL Galan meet in Stockholm, Dibaba set a new women’s indoor 3000-meter world record, slicing more than seven seconds off the previous mark—set by fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar in 2007—to finish in 8:16.60.
This latest record-breaking performance follows last Saturday’s IAAF Indoor Permit meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany, where Dibaba ran roughshod over Yelena Soboleva’s indoor 1500-meter world record, cutting more than three seconds from the Russian’s 2006 time with her 3:55.17 clocking.
In both races, Dibaba followed a strategy of starting strong and finishing stronger. On Thursday, IAAF.org reports, she stayed right on Defar’s record pace through 1000 meters, when pacemakers dropped out and let her go it alone.
At 1500 meters (4:12.0), she was two seconds ahead of Defar, and by the 2000-meter mark (5:34.25), she’d trimmed away nearly three more seconds. While it was a good day for the entire field—each of the top nine finishers set a personal best, and seven ran faster than 8:50—Dibaba’s only real challenger was the clock.
To wit, runner-up Hellen Obiri improved on her personal best by an impressive six seconds, and even so, the Kenyan finished more than 13 seconds behind Dibaba.
As IAAF.org points out, Dibaba’s Stockholm triumph is notable for several other reasons. First, Thursday’s run took place 16 years to the day after Kenya’s Daniel Komen ran 7:24.90 over the same distance and set a world indoor record that still stands. Also, she’s now the fastest African woman of all time, indoors or outdoors. Prior to Thursday, that distinction had belonged to Kenya’s Edith Masai, who ran 8.23.23 outdoors in 2002.
What’s more, Dibaba’s 8:16.60 marks the fastest women’s 3000-meter time run indoors or out since 1993, when China’s Wang Junxia set the outdoor world record of 8:06.11 at the Chinese National Games. According to the IAAF, only two other women—Wang’s countrywomen Qu Yunxia and Zhang Linli—have posted outdoor 3000-meter times faster than Dibaba’s new indoor mark.
“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