Results from yesterday’s Zurich Diamond League meet showed the poles pulling apart as some rode the high of the 2013 Moscow World Championships, while others looked like the long season had caught up with them.
Eunice Sum, Nick Symmonds, Bohdan Bondarenko and Meseret Defar fell into the first category. Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi, Mathew Centrowitz, Ivan Ukhov and even Usain Bolt found themselves joined in the second.
The most anticipated race of the evening was the 5000 meter showdown between former Ethiopian teen queens turned Olympic icons, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar, the two most decorated women distance runners of their generation. Both arrived in Zurich as World Champions, Tiru at 10,000 meters, Mezzy in the 5000.
Since they first squared off at the 2002 Carlsbad 5000 as precocious teens (Tiru took 2nd in 15:19 to Mezzy’s 11th in 15:58) theirs has been the match up that has most intrigued yet frustrated running fans. Though they have competed more than 20 times over the years, Zurich was only their third head-to-head clash since 2009.
In this first duel of the year Defar proved to be two-seconds sharper, 14:32.84 to 14:34.82. Her 58-second last lap – that held more in reserve as I saw it — forced Tirunesh to lead out from 600 meters hoping to use her 10,000 meter strength to grind down Meseret’s 5000 meter closing speed. Tiru’s sister Genzebe even aided the family cause by pushing the pace past 4K in an attempt to set up her older sis. (more…)