Tirunesh Dibaba (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Women's 10,000m – Preview

The presence of Ethiopia's London 2012 Olympic Games champion Tirunesh Dibaba along with her compatriot and her long-time rival Meseret Defar in a straight final, with potentially up to 21 athletes on the track, could turn this race into one of the highlights of the second day of competition in Moscow.

If it comes off that is, as there are reports in the Ethiopian media that Dibaba might just concentrate on the 10,000m while Defar will only contest the 5000m but, as of 8 August, they are both down to do both events.

Dibaba, who missed the 2011 World Championships through injury but who has never lost in her 10 outings over 25 laps of the track, has this remarkable streak on her side and has proven over the years, shown by two Olympic Games gold medals in Beijing and London as well as the 2005 and 2010 World titles, that she can raise her game on the big occasion.

Defar’s record in her seven career 10,000m races is a little more erratic and has only twice contested the event at major championships, finishing fifth in Berlin 2009 and failing to finish in Daegu. But this year she leads the 2013 world list with the 30:08.06 she ran in the Swedish town of Sollentuna on 27 June, the 10th fastest performance of all-time and the best in the world for almost four years.

However, Dibaba has not been resting on her laurels and on the same night halfway across Europe, she ran 30:26.57 to win in the Czech city of Ostrava.

The third member of the Ethiopian team is Belaynesh Oljira, who finished third in Ostrava in 30:31.44.

Oljira was third at the 2013 IAAF World Cross country Championships and fifth in the 2012 Olympic Games 10,000m, which opens up the possibility of a clean sweep of the medals for Ethiopia, emulating what their Rift Valley rivals Kenya achieved in 2011.

It is, of course, the Kenyan runners who are most likely to offer a challenge to any thoughts of Ethiopian hegemony.

The Kenyan trio does not feature the 2011 World champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who is on maternity leave from the sport, but Emily Chebet, Gladys Cherono and Sally Chepyego should be able to represent their interest very well.

Cherono, the 2012 African champion over both 5000m and 10,000m, finished second in that high-quality Ostrava race and ran a personal best of 30:29.23 to earn a trip to her first ever global championship at the age of 30.

By contrast, Chebet has two World titles to her name, albeit at cross country, having won in 2010 and 2013 but she could only finish ninth over 10,000m in her only previous World Championships appearance, back in 2007.

Runners from Kenya and Ethiopia filled the first five places at the Olympic Games last summer, as they had done at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, so it is difficult to see anyone breaking up their cartel.

Bahrain’s Shitaye Eshete was the best of the rest in Daegu and London, finishing sixth on both occasions and setting national records both times.

However, it is hard to see her stepping up and getting among the medals.

US distance runner Shalane Flanagan, now 32, showed the world that elite 10,000m running isn’t necessarily a purely African preserve when she won the 2008 Olympic Games bronze medal but, despite winning the US title in June, she is not in the form of six years ago.

Click here for OFFICIAL ENTRIES in the Moscow 2013 Athletes section.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF