Earlier this week athletics fans were given a master class in long distance track running. The tactics were perfect, the wind up of pace unrelenting and the blistering final 400m (59.93 secs) wouldn’t have been too out of place in a club level 4 x 400m relay. I sound like I’m describing Mo Farah’s 10000m the other night. Well, I’m not. I’m talking about probably one of the greatest female distance runners, nay, possibly THE greatest ever female distance runner, Tirunesh Dibaba AKA: The Baby Faced Destroyer.
She has perfect running form. She glides effortlessly and gracefully after 24 laps as she does after 2 laps. Her record is beyond compare with 5 World Championship track titles, 3 Olympic golds and 5 World Cross Country titles. She did the 5000m/10000m double at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a whole Olympiad before Mo succeeded in his attempts. She is dominant and few can challenge her.
Now I don’t want to seem down on Mo (I’m not, I’m a massive fan) but someone on twitter pointed out that during the women’s 10000m the commentators talked about Mo Farah a fair bit without referring to the race that was unfolding before them. Frustrating and a tad disrespectful to the women who were racing their hearts out. After the race they also mentioned the presenters mentioned that they never tend to interview her ‘because she doesn’t speak English’. Hello! Interpreters?!
And lately I’ve also noticed a trend in women’s distance running where we only seem to laud those whose careers are already over, like Joan Benoit and Ingrid Kristiansen. But the men are always talked about in the present and their achievements are raised aloft but not so of Dibaba.
Maybe it’s because we don’t know her story. Maybe Dibaba prefers it that way. Maybe she doesn’t want the fuss and is happy for bigger personlaities like Usain Bolt to take centre stage, but I really think more should be made of this unbelievable distance running legend of our time. This diminutive athlete is one of my running heroes and it is always a pleasure to see her in full flow. Bow down to the Baby Faced Destroyer!