LONDON (AFP) – Ethiopian Meseret Defar deprived her teammate and arch-rival Tirunesh Dibaba an Olympic double for a second time when she produced a home-stretch sprint to claim victory in the 5000m on Friday.
Defar, who also won the 5000m at the Athens Games in 2004, timed a relatively slow 15min 04.25sec, with world champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya claiming silver in 15:04.73.
Defending Olympic champion and newly-crowned 10,000m gold medallist Dibaba, considered the greatest female distance runner of all-time with three Olympic titles and four world crowns, took bronze in 15:05.15.
Britain’s Joanne Pavey took up the early running in the 12-and-a-half lap race, Dibaba content to sit quietly on the inside lane.
Italian Elena Romagnolo led the bunched peloton through the 2km mark in 6:17.35.
Cheruiyot and her teammates Sally Kipyego and Viola Kibiwot sat at the back of the pack as Dibaba took to the front with four laps remaining.
Defar followed, with Kibiwot leading the trio of Kenyans through to the front as the pace finally upped towards 1:05 laps.
With 800m to go, Dibaba tested the waters with another surge that saw the main contenders cut to the six east African rivals.
As the bell rang for the final lap, Dibaba looked up at the screen to see where the field lay, but her expected surge was not forthcoming, as it had been in last week’s 10,000m when she outpaced Kipyego and Cheruiyot into silver and bronze.
Approaching the final bend, there were still six runners in it.
Defar waited on Dibaba’s shoulder and pounced as her team-mate once known as the ‘baby-faced assassin’ flagged, looking for her trademark turn of speed for the line but coming up empty.
Cheruiyot, who is also reigning world 10,000m champion, then passed Dibaba in the final few metres, unable to keep up her unbeaten 11-race winning streak on the international circuit.