by Yemi Babalola Lagos 

Our amazon for the week is long distance track Ethiopian athlete, Tirunesh Dibaba, she was born on June 1, 1985, in Bekoji village Ethiopia. Tirunesh is the fourth of six children amongst who are active in athletics just like her.

Tirunesh started athletics at the age of 14, and was raised in the high altitude Arsi province of Ethiopia.

Tirunesh’s first major competition was the 2001 International Athletics IAAF, World Cross Country Championships. Her first competition was, at just age 15 she participated in the women’s junior race finishing 5th. She progressed in the sport and entered for the 2003 afro-Asian games, where she won a silver medal in the 5000 meters.

This began the illustrious career Of Tirunesh. SHE WENT on to become one of the legendary athletes of all time, and enjoyed great successes in the world championships event of 2003, 2005 and 2007.

She became the youngest athlete ever to win an individual Gold medal at the world championships, at the time when she was  relatively unknown, which made British commentators, Brendan foster and Steve cram failing to mention her name until the final 100 meters in…


In the 2005 championships, Tirunesh had a blistering finish to out-sprint compatriot Berhane Adere and her older sister Ejegayehu to become the first woman to win the 10,000 and 5,000 meter double at the same championship. While this feat continued at the championships held in Osaka Japan in 2007, Tirunesh overhauled turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse despite tumbling during mid-race and having abdominal pains throughout her sprint. This saw her becoming the only woman to win back to back consecutive 10,000m titles, in Osaka, her win was 31 minutes, 55 seconds and 41 micro seconds.

Tirunesh success in athletics was not restricted to the world championships.

Her first time at the Olympics was the 2004 Athens Olympics where she got only win a bronze medal having being beaten by compatriot Meseret Defar and Isabella Ochichi of Kenya in the 500m event. Some have called this result disappointing though it made her the youngest ever medalist for Ethiopia at the age of 19 in the Olympics.


That result however did not deter her as she made the 2008 Beijing Olympics in china a memorable one for herself winning double gold medals in the long distance races to include the 5,000m and 10,000m.

In 2009, Tirunesh was prevented from competing in the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman and the Athletics World Championships in berlin in the same year due to injury. But came back to competitive road race on November 15, 2009 and won the Zevenheuvelenlop 15 km race in Nijmegen Netherlands. Tirunesh defended her 10,000m title at the 2010 African championships in athletics in Nairobi, Kenya.

Her career took a down turn with injuries making her to stay off competition for sixteen months .she returned at the 2012 New Year’s Eve San Silvestre Vallecana and won by beating Gelete Burka in a sprint finish.

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In 2012 London Olympics, she defended her 10,000m title with a powerful performance over the final 600 meters winning in a time of 30:20:75 minutes- the fastest run for the year. Which saw her become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympics 10,000m titles.

Tirunesh last competition was in 2014 at the London marathon where she finished third in a time of 2:20:34 as pregnancy stopped her in the 2015 season.

Tirunesh is married to fellow athlete Sileshi Sihine and they have a son Nathan Sileshi born in March 2015. 

A mention must be made here that she also has an honorary doctorate from Addis Ababa University and also has a hospital named after her in Addis Ababa. 
She is also a business woman involved in the hospitality industry in Ethiopia.


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