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 & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal