London Marathon 2014: Mo Farah's debut topped by brilliant Tirunesh Dibaba

The smiling, cherubic assassin of the track is so revered in her native Ethiopia, there is a hospital named after her

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The Independent Online

The fanfare over Mo Farah's first marathon has been so loud that a more globally celebrated athlete's debut at the London Marathon has fallen well under the radar.

The prospect of Tirunesh Dibaba, the smiling, cherubic assassin of the track, is arguably more mouth-watering from a global perspective.

The 28-year-old boasts the 5,000m world record, five world titles and five Olympic medals, three of them gold. So revered is she back in her native Ethiopia, there is a hospital named after her.

Her marathon debut has been long-awaited. She tried a year ago, but was forced to pull out with a leg injury. Through a translator, she said: "I was about to come last year but the plane was delayed by one year! The marathon is new to me but I've intensively trained and I am ready."

She produced a scintillating burst of speed to win Olympic 10,000m gold, but knows stamina is key now.

"It's difficult to change from one race to another race," she said. "I have done my best. It was my aspiration to come to London and try my best."

Dibaba's younger sister Genzebe broke three world records in 15 days earlier this year, while her older sibling Ejegayehe was an Olympic silver medallist in 2004. Then there is her aunt, the two-time Olympic champion over 10,000m Derartu Tulu.

Dibaba comes from Bekoji, in the Ethiopian highlands, the same region as Kenenisa Bekele, who won the Paris Marathon last week, and Tiki Gelana, the Olympic marathon champion who also runs on Sunday.

Like Farah in the men's race, for the past five months she has turned her attention solely to marathon running, training with the men's pacemaker Haile Gebrselassie.

"Haile has shared his great experience with me and I am very grateful," she said before adding that such words of wisdom would remain a secret.