Athletics: Radcliffe wilts as Dibaba leads Ethiopia sweep

World Athletics Championships » Briton finishes ninth in 10,000m as Africa's baby-faced assassin streaks to gold

As the comic once said, it was like déjà vu all over again. Having forced the pace from the front for the first half of the race, and returned to the lead fleetingly thereafter, Radcliffe's challenge finally capitulated with one and a half laps remaining.

Still, with next Sunday's marathon in mind, it was satisfactory preparation for the 31-year-old Briton's main event in Helsinki. Her finishing time, 30 min 42.75sec, augurs well for prospects of striking her first gold in a global major championship, at the distance at which she holds the world record.

"My goal was to run a fast race and to run it for myself," Radcliffe reflected. "I enjoyed most of it. I just didn't enjoy getting my arse kicked over the last five laps. I just didn't have the pace to go with it in the end but I'm in no way gutted. I didn't see many marathon runners in front of me."

As the fastest female marathon runner of all time, by some considerable margin, Radcliffe will start as the woman to beat in the 26.2-mile event on the roads of Helsinki, though it remains to be seen how she will react to the physical exertions of last night's punishing race. Standard training schedules for a marathon recommend a 10km road race with a week to go, the objective being to gain the physiological benefit of having forced the legs to sustain a speed that ought to make the race pace of the marathon feel easier. A 10,000m track race against the very best in the world, however, is rather more demanding than a 10km club race somewhere on the back roads of Britain.

Since the nightmare of the Olympics in Athens last summer, when she failed to reach the finish line first in the marathon and then in the 10,000m, Radcliffe has succeeded in getting back into the winning groove in the marathon. She prevailed in a sprint finish in New York last November and was then a class apart in London in April, clocking 2hr 17min 42sec, a time that only she herself has beaten - on two world record breaking occasions. As she lined up for the start last night, though, doubts remained about her form at the highest level on the track, having emerged victorious from just one of her previous three races this summer.

Hitting the front after 200m, Radcliffe pushed the pace with such zeal that just 11 of the 27 starters were still in the hunt after the first four of the 25 laps. The big question thereafter was whether she could drop any of the speed merchants who were following in her wake. At halfway, which she reached in 15 min 16.29sec, they were all still in tow, the younger Dibaba sister looking menacingly comfortable.

It was a lap farther on that Radcliffe relinquished the lead, initially to Kayko Fushi of Japan. She was down to eighth place when the Ethiopians made their first move of note, Werknesh Kidane leading a temporary charge approaching the 7,000m mark. With five and half laps to go, Radcliffe returned to the front but she was struggling to keep in touch when the Kenyan Edith Masai and Sun Yingjie, of China, swept past her just inside the final mile. She finally fell out of contention with 600m remaining, leaving the Dibabas and Adere to decide the medal positions with a last lap burn-up.

Tirunesh, a baby-faced assassin of a 20-year-old, gunned down Adere, the defending champion, with 230m to go, crossing the line with 1.39sec to spare in 30min 24.02sec. For the younger Dibaba, it continued a staggering run of achievements in 2005. A cousin and training partner of Deratu Tulu, Radcliffe's old nemesis, she has been a mistress of all surfaces this year - breaking Adere's 5,000m world record indoors, equalling Radcliffe's world record time for 5km on the roads, and winning the short-course and long-course events at the World Cross Country Championships. The youngest world champion in history when she won the 5,000m in Paris as an 18-year-old two years ago, she is now on course for another double here, with her global track crown at the shorter distance still to defend.

"When I won in Paris, everybody called me 'the little girl'," she said. "I am no longer that little girl. I am afraid of no one in competition." And, to think: she only took up running by chance, when her family sent her to high school in Addis Ababa and she missed the registration deadline.

As for Radcliffe, there is still a marathon task ahead. From 299th in the girls' race at the English women's cross-country championships, she has already fought her way to world record breaking heights as a runner. Getting from ninth in the 10,000m to first in the marathon is a World Championship challenge she will heartily relish.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices