Almaz Ayana says she is primed and ready to break the 5000m world record at the Meeting Areva in Paris on Saturday (4), and she will do it alone if necessary, despite the presence of her compatriot Genzebe Dibaba at the IAAF Diamond League meeting.
Ayana posted the third-fastest time in history at the Shanghai IAAF Diamond League meeting in May when she ran alone to clock 14:14.32, and tomorrow she will attack the world record of 14:11.15 set by Tirunesh Dibaba in Oslo in 2008, a goal made easier thanks to the presence of Dibaba’s younger sister Genzebe in the Stade de France field.
The younger Dibaba broke the world indoor record earlier this year and ran the season’s second-fastest outdoor time when she clocked 14:19.76 in Eugene. Yet, despite reports that the two young Ethiopians will work together, sharing the pace as they hone in on Tiruensh’s time, Ayana was adamant today that she won’t relinquish her front-running habits.
“I am ready to break the world record tomorrow,” said the 23-year-old. “I will need a pace of between 67 and 68 seconds (per lap); that would be perfect. My only fear is about the weather. If it is too warm it will be difficult.
“But it will be easier with Genzebe in the race because it is always hard to fight alone. Tomorrow we will try together.”
However, Ayana insisted they have not made any pre-race deals to share the pace by running a lap each. “My only goal is to be in the lead and to go fast,” she said. “I prefer to lead and always go to the front of the pack. That’s how I want to run tomorrow.
“It’s not a championship where we are running for our country; it is an individual race where we are running for ourselves, and so I will run with my own tactics and stick with the way I like to run.”
Meeting director Laurent Boquillet admitted it was a risk to add Dibaba to the field, potentially distracting Ayana from the record attempt. “In some ways it would have been easier just to have Almaz but I think it’s great to have Genzebe there too,” he said.
“To be realistic it means the record might not happen, but hopefully we’ll have a great race and see who is the better athlete.”
Ayana appears to be more optimistic, however, and claims that Paris would be the perfect place to break the record. The French capital holds a special place in her memory, she said, for it was here two years ago that she finally decided to switch from steeplechase and focus only on the longer distance.
Her husband and coach, Soresa Fida, had suggested she give the 5000m a go “at least once”, and Ayana duly managed to finish second behind Tirunesh in 14:25.84, a personal best by nearly 30 seconds and a performance that completely altered her competitive focus.
“I want to break the world record in Paris because it is a special place for me,” she explained. “It was in Paris where I decided to switch events two years ago. It was here that I first thought I had real potential.
“My husband said one day I should try it at least once, and the result was very good. I was second in the Diamond League in Paris so I said, ‘OK, I will run the 5000m now.’ It wasn’t a decision, it was an accident.”
Matthew Brown for the IAAF