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2008 Olympic Games Beijing - Women's 5000 m



Host City: Beijing, China Format: Top five in each heat and next five fastest advanced to the final.
Date Started: August 19, 2008  
Date Finished: August 22, 2008  
(Competitors: 31; Countries: 19; Finalists: 15)  
    Venue(s): Beijing National Stadium, Beijing
Overview by IAAF    2008_olympic_stadium.jpg
After reasonably paced-heats won by favourites Dibaba (15:09.89) and Defar (14:56.32), the final started even more turgidly than in 2004, with an opening lap of 83.2 followed by circuits of 91.8 and 89.3. Abeylegesse then lifted the pace with a fifth lap of 68.8, to pass 2000m in 6:45.41. In view of the finishing abilities of Dibaba and Defar, it looked like the rest of the field was trusting in its sprint abilities to win the bronze medal. An eighth lap of 81.8 meant that 3000m was passed in 9:58.13 led by Russian steeplechase winner Gulnara Samitova-Galkina. The pace picked up to 69.0 with four laps to go, and Dibaba led at 4000m in 13:04.77. The supremely elegant Ethiopian then added laps of 65.5 and 60.9, before cruising home over the last 200m in 30.2 seconds to win. Defar had been close to Dibaba until 200m to go, but she was overhauled in the finishing straight by Abeylegesse for the silver medal, with the result that the gold and bronze medals were reversed from 2004. The winning time of 15:41.40 was more than half a minute slower than any other Olympic 5000m final, but Dibaba had covered her last 400 in 59.54, the last 800m in 2:03.96 and last kilometre in 2:36.63 (13:03 pace!).
Summary by      
After winning the 10K a week before, Tirunesh Dibaba was looking to become the first woman to win the 5K/10K double at the Olympics. The early lead in the final was taken by Russian Gulnara Galkina, who had already won the steeplechase gold medal. She led thru the first kilometer when Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse (a native Ethiopian), silver medalist in the 10K, took over. But the pace was pedestrian, likely due to the high temperatures, and all the contenders were still in contention. Abeylegesse pushed the pace with two laps left, but did not drop Dibaba. Dibaba took the lead at the bell and was not challenged on the final lap, winning quite easily, to acheive the first female Olympic distance double. Abeylegesse held on for the silver medal, duplicating their 10K 1-2 finish. The winning time of 15:41.40 was the slowest ever for an Olympic or World Championship final.


Prior to this competition, the existing world and Olympic records were as follows:

World record  Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 14:11.15 Oslo, Norway 6 June 2008
Olympic record  Gabriela Szabó (ROU) 14:40.79 Sydney, Australia 25 September 2000

No new world or Olympic records were set for this event.


The women's 5000 metres at the 2008 Summer Olympics took place on 19–22 August at the Beijing National Stadium.

The qualifying standards were 15:09.00 (A standard) and 15:24.00 (B standard).

While strategically this was different, the results were much the same as the 10000 final a week earlier. Elvan Abeylegesse kept took the lead earlier but field did not dissipate behind her, instead Ethiopians, Kenyans and newly crowned steeplechase world record holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina engulfing each attempt to pull away. Going into the last lap, it was the three Ethiopians and former Ethiopian Abeylegesse at the front, with the Kenyan team and Russian Liliya Shobukhova already trying to catch back up. Tirunesh Dibaba jumped into the lead with the expected chase coming from Meseret Defar, in one of the few head to head battles between these two stars. But Abeylegesse hadn't read the script and refused to get out of the picture. Through the final turn she caught Defar and swung wide into lane 2 as if to speed past Dibaba. She was able to match Dibaba's speed down the final straight but couldn't make up the ground she had lost, Dibaba taking her second gold, Defar holding off the rest of the field to take bronze.

Women's 5000m - FINAL" target="_blank" class="email-link">

The eagerlyanticipated battle of the dueling D’s – defending champion Meseret Defar and 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba – in the 5000m came down, as expected, to the final lap. It just took the Ethiopian duo an excruciatingly long time to get there.

Simply put, Dibaba became the first woman in Olympic history to add 5000m gold to a 10,000m triumph. And she did it with the slowest winning time ever. For Dibaba, who ran 29:54.56 one week ago to take 10,000m, the second fastest performance in history, it was just as well.

“I was expecting a much faster pace,” Dibaba said. “The 10,000 was really tough. But today we were running for gold, and it was also tough.”

Certainly the toughest 15:41.40 race she’s ever run in her life. And the opening laps were quite painful for the spectators as well.

With no one wanting to lead, it was Russia’s 3000m Steeplechase champion Gulnara Galkina-Samitova who was forced into the pacing duties. Passing the first 1000m in 3:39.20, it was obvious she wasn’t too happy with the chore.

Elvan Abeylegesse, the 10,000m silver medallist, was apparently bored with the pace as well, and made a move to the front at about the 1500m mark to up the tempo a bit and reach the end of the second kilometre in 6:45.41. The sluggish pace continued for the next several laps, with a dozen women still in the lead pack. That heavy traffic produced quite a bit contact, most notably to Defar who was clipped from behind and nearly knocked off balance with just over four laps to go.

While the lead changed hands several times, it was again Abeylegesse, just as she did in the waning stages of the 10,000m, who upped the tempo again considerably with 800 metres to go. Dibaba remained on her should, with Defar and Ethiopian No. 3, Meselech Melkamu, looking strongest.

The action hit fever pitch at the bell when Dibaba took command, with Defar and Abeylegesse tagging along. She gapped the pursuers just before entering the turn, but surprisingly, it was the Turk who was doing the chasing. Finishing in just under 60 seconds, Dibaba was never challenged as she approached the line. Nor was Abeylegesse (15:42.74) who deserved her second silver of the Games. Defar couldn’t summon her trademark kick, but held on to take the bronze in 15:44.12.

“I tried to do my best to win,” said the Ethiopian-born Abeylegesse, whose double distance silver was also an Olympic first. “My coach told me that I had to accelerate in the race, and I tried to do that.”

Defar, whose disappointment showed during the victory ceremony, said she ran with pain in the lower part of her right leg over the last few laps, one reason why her kick failed her. Of the dawdling pace, she said, “I just thought it would be best to wait until the end to up the pace.”

In the mad scramble for bronze, Kenyans Sylvia Kibet (15:44.96) and Vivian Cheruiyot (15:46.32) fell a bit short, finishing fourth and fifth. Russian Lilia Shobukhova was sixth (15:46.62), and Turk Alemiute Bekele (14:48.48) seventh.

Out of contention in the late stages were American Shalane Flanagan, the 10,000m bronze medallist, who faded to 10th after running near the front for much of the race, and Galkina-Samitova, who was left behind with about 800m to go. The 3000m Steeplechase World record holder finished 12th.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

5000 m Women     Final 22 August      
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 15.41.40     Tirunesh Dibaba Ethiopia ETH 1 Oct 85  
2 15.42.74     Elvan Abeylegesse Turkey TUR 11 Sep 82  
3 15.44.12     Meseret Defar Ethiopia ETH 19 Nov 83  
4 15.44.96     Sylvia Kibet Kenya KEN 28 Mar 84  
5 15.46.32     Vivian Cheruiyot Kenya KEN 11 Sep 83  
6 15.46.62     Liliya Shobukhova Russia RUS 13 Nov 77  
7 15.48.48     Alemitu Bekele Turkey TUR 17 Sep 77  
8 15.49.03     Meselech Melkamu Ethiopia ETH 27 Apr 85  
9 15.49.39     Kara Goucher United States USA 9 Jul 78  
10 15.50.80     Shalane Flanagan United States USA 8 Jul 81  
11 15.51.78     Priscah Cherono Kenya KEN 27 Jun 80  
12 15.56.97     Gulnara Galkina Russia RUS 9 Jul 78  
13 16.09.84     Xue Fei China CHN 8 Aug 89  
14 16.34.63     Jen Rhines United States USA 1 Jul 74  
15 17.06.82     Megan Metcalfe Wright Canada CAN 27 Jan 82  


Intermediate Athlete Country Mark
1000m Gulnara Samitova-Galkina  Russia 3:39.20
2000m Elvan Abeylegesse  Turkey 6:45.41
3000m Gulnara Samitova-Galkina  Russia 9:58.13
4000m Tirunesh Dibaba  Ethiopia 13:04.77

Women's 5000m - Round 1


It’s official: one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport will take centre stage when the guns sound the start of the women’s 5000m on Friday evening (22). Tirunesh Dibaba, the recently minted Olympic 10,000m champion will square off against Meseret Defar, the reigning 5000m champion.

Since the 2002 World Junior Championships, when Defar took the title over Dibaba, the Ethiopian duo have met 22 times in the 5000m, with Defar holding a narrow 12-10 lead while building up her resume as arguably the world’s finest 5000m runner. But in June, Defar, who has dominated the 10,000m in recent years, took the World record from Defar in Oslo clocking 14:11.15. Defar tried to reclaim it in Stockholm a month later, but came up just a few metres short, clocking 14:12.88. The two are that close.

For whatever reasons, they haven’t met since the World Athletics Final nearly two years ago – won by Defar - but their paths will finally, and dramatically cross here as Dibaba aims to win her second medal of the Games while Defar hopes to hold on to a title she considers hers.

Each won their respective heats tonight with relative ease, Dibaba the slower first in 15:09.89 and Defar the faster second in 14:56.32. Their victories were remarkably similar as both were content to sit back in the pack and let others do the leading. Dibaba moved to the front just beyond the bell and held on, while Defar chose to wait until about 200 metres remained.

If either can be considered to have a slight edge, it would be Defar, who raced for the first time in these Games. The biggest question mark hanging over Dibaba will be how she’ll recover from her phenomenal victory in the 10,000m, where her stunning 29:54.66 performance was the second fastest in history.

Neither of the first round heats produced much drama for the remaining five automatic spots behind the Ethiopian pair, with the slots already more or less determined as the fields approached their respective bell laps.

Just a little more than a second separated spots two through five in the first race, with Kenyan Sylvia Kibet (15:10.37), Alemitu Bekele (15:10.92) of Turkey, Ethiopia’s African Champion Meselech Melkamu (15:11.21) and Gulnara Galkina-Samitova (15:11.46) of Russia moving on easily. Behind them, American Jenn Rhines, who ran with the leaders through much of the race, nabbed the sixth automatic spot, clocking 15:15.12.

The significantly quicker pace over the final kilometre in the second race would guarantee that the next three over the line behind the top six automatic qualifiers would also advance.

With Vivian Cheruiyot (14:57.27) and Priscah Jepleting (14:58.07) advancing, Kenya will have three women in the final, as will the United States, led by Shalane Flanagan, the 10,000m bronze medallist, and Kara Goucher.

Also advancing were Russian Liliya Shobukhova (14:57.77), who broke the European record last month, and former 5000m World record holder Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey.

While the Defar-Dibaba show will take the spotlight, behind them several other notable double attempts will be undertaken. Galkina-Samitova won the first Olympic gold medal in the 3000m Steeplechase on Sunday, clocking a World record of 8:58.81. Abeylegesse won silver in the 10,000m on Friday with a European record 29:56.34 (the third fastest performance in history) in what very well might have been the finest ever women’s contest over the distance.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
5000 m Women     Heat 1 19 August      
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 15.09.89   Q Tirunesh Dibaba Ethiopia ETH 1 Oct 85  
2 15.10.37   Q Sylvia Kibet Kenya KEN 28 Mar 84  
3 15.10.92   Q Alemitu Bekele Turkey TUR 17 Sep 77  
4 15.11.21   Q Meselech Melkamu Ethiopia ETH 27 Apr 85  
5 15.11.46   Q Gulnara Galkina Russia RUS 9 Jul 78  
6 15.15.12   Q Jen Rhines United States USA 1 Jul 74  
7 15.15.87     Yuriko Kobayashi Japan JPN 12 Dec 88  
8 15.16.25     Simret Sultan Eritrea ERI 20 Jul 84 NR
9 15.21.85     Volha Krautsova Belarus BLR 25 Jul 81  
10 15.23.45     Silvia Weissteiner Italy ITA 13 Jul 79  
11 15.23.81     Zhang Yingying China CHN 4 Jan 90  
12 15.24.28     Zakya Mrisho Mohamed Tanzania TAN 19 Feb 84  
13 15.31.22     Dolores Checa Spain ESP 27 Dec 82  
14 16.05.71     Jessica Augusto Portugal POR 8 Nov 81  
15 16.44.09     Lucia Chandamale Malawi MAW 18 Jun 88  
16 17.25.99     Celmas Soares Bonfim São Tomé and Príncipe STP 23 Dec 77 NR
5000 m Women     Heat 2 19 August      
Rank Mark     Athlete Country NOC Birth Date Records
1 14.56.32   Q Meseret Defar Ethiopia ETH 19 Nov 83  
2 14.57.27   Q Vivian Cheruiyot Kenya KEN 11 Sep 83  
3 14.57.77   Q Liliya Shobukhova Russia RUS 13 Nov 77  
4 14.58.07   Q Priscah Cherono Kenya KEN 27 Jun 80  
5 14.58.79   Q Elvan Abeylegesse Turkey TUR 11 Sep 82  
6 14.59.69   Q Shalane Flanagan United States USA 8 Jul 81  
7 15.00.98   Q Kara Goucher United States USA 9 Jul 78  
8 15.11.23   Q Megan Metcalfe Wright Canada CAN 27 Jan 82  
9 15.13.25   Q Xue Fei China CHN 8 Aug 89  
10 15.20.46     Kayoko Fukushi Japan JPN 25 Mar 82  
11 15.21.47     Mariem Alaoui Selsouli Morocco MAR 8 Apr 84  
12 15.38.30     Yukiko Akaba Japan JPN 18 Oct 79  
13 16.08.86     Krisztina Papp Hungary HUN 17 Dec 82  
14 17.08.44     Francine Niyonizigiye Burundi BDI 16 Nov 88  
  DNF     Yelena Zadorozhnaya Russia RUS 3 Dec 77  




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