Tirunesh DIBABA

Ethiopia ETH

Athletics

  • Olympic Medals
    3 G
    3 B
  • Games participations
    4
  • First Olympic Games
    Athens 2004
  • Year of Birth
    1985
Olympic Results

Biography

Tirunesh DIBABA

Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibada is the youngest female world champion in the history of athletics, the first woman to achieve the Olympic 5,000m/10,000m double, and the first to successfully defend a long-distance title at the Games.


Born to run

Tirunesh Dibaba was born the city of Bekoji, nestled in the high plains of Ethiopia at an altitude of 2,800m, and home to a number of long-distance champions, including Derartu Tulu and Kenenisa Bekele, who between them won five Olympic titles. She attributes her skill as a runner and her stamina to necessity: “I grew up running with pails of water that I went to fetch from the river after school every day, to help my mother,” she once explained.

She is one of three siblings who have enjoyed success on the track. Her older sister Ejegayehu was a 10,000m Olympic silver medalist in Athens in 2004, while younger sister Genzebe is the 2015 world champion and current world record holder over 1,500m.

Teenage track tyro

Dibaba was just 18 when she took part in her first major international competition, the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris. Going into the last straight in the 5,000m final, she shrugged off her opponents to cross the line in 14.51.72 and become the youngest female athletics world champion in history, and the latest in a long line of Ethiopian long-distance greats. “When you compete for Ethiopia you must bring back gold,” she later explained. “People in our country don’t accept anything less. Winning silver or bronze is the same as coming fifth or sixth.”

Looking back on that maiden victory, she said: “I was only 18 and I remember how desperately I wanted to be a champion. Winning was so amazing! I’ll always remember it.”

Olympic debut

Dibaba’s early success while still in her teens earned her the nickname ‘Baby-Faced Destroyer’. Despite having her preparations for Athens 2004 disrupted by a knee injury, she still managed to win bronze in the 5,000m, finishing behind her compatriot Mereset Defar and Kenya’s Isabella Ochichi. The following year, at the Worlds in Helsinki, she completed a 5,000m/10,000m double, and then in 2007, in Osaka (JPN) claimed her fourth world title, with a now trademark acceleration into the finish of the 10,000m final. To go with these successes on the track, Dibaba was also crowned world cross-country champion five times between 2003 and 2008.

Olympic Results

More results
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Rio 2016

B
10,000 metres
10,000 metres Athletics
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

London 2012

G
10,000 metres
10,000 metres Athletics
B
5,000 metres
5,000 metres Athletics
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Beijing 2008

G
5,000 metres
5,000 metres Athletics
G
10,000 metres
10,000 metres Athletics
Olympic Results
Results Event Sport

Athens 2004

B
5,000 metres
5,000 metres Athletics