Tirunesh Dibaba also known as Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene is an Ethiopian long distance athlete whose stamina made her a world champion. She is the current Olympic champion in the 10,000 m, and she also won the bronze medal in the 5,000 m in London 2012.
The high altitude of her hometown of Bekoji located in the Arsi Zone of the Oromia Region (9,000 feet above sea level) prepared her for a very successful career. Tirunesh is from a family of athletes; her sisters Ejegayehu Dibaba and Genzebe have won medals at the Olympics and at world championship. She married Sileshi Sihine in 2009 who is a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the men’s 10K. Therefore, the trend of medals in the family may continue in the future.
Tirunesh won her first International medal in 2002 – at the world Junior Championship in Kingston, Jamaica. At that event she won a silver medal in the 5000 meters. Since then she has World titles in the 5K and the 10K events. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008 she won gold medals in both events. She won a bronze medal in her first event in Athens in 2004, in 5K race. The result was considered by some to be a disappointment but at 19, she still became the youngest ever medalist for Ethiopia at the Olympics.
In 2009 her career was beset by injuries and after 16 months away from competition she returned to full competition at the 2011 New Year's Eve San Silvestre Vallecana games; she won by beating Gelete Burka in a sprint to the finish. She won the two-mile race at the Boston Indoor Grand Prix and took her second career win at the Carlsbad 5000 in March. In her first outdoor track race of the year, she won the 10,000 m at the Prefontaine Classic by beating Florence Kiplagat.
Her performances in 2011 and early 2012 signaled that she was ready. She won the 2012 Olympic gold in dominating fashion and cemented the fact that she is one of the greatest female distance runners in history. She became the first female long distance runner to win three Olympic gold medals. She proudly states, “I have never been happier. I was not even that happy in Beijing. No one has ever done what I did today.”
Repeating as Olympic champion in the 10K, Dibaba joined her cousin Derartu Tulu as the only women to win the race twice. Her Agent, Westmore said, “The Olympics mean so much to Ethiopia,” he continued, “It has put her in rarefied air.”