Multiple world record holder and world champion Genzebe Dibaba has pulled out of Saturday’s Athletics President’s Cup 10,000m Olympic qualifier due to an injury, according to her coach Jama Aden.
The middle-distance queen was scheduled to compete in a 10,000m for the first time in her career as she contemplates adding the event to her Rio Olympics agenda but that experiment has been postponed as Aden reports Dibaba has suffered an injury in her left foot.
“Genzebe wanted to come but she suffered a slight injury at the last minute and was forced to pull out because the doctor recommended she rest for two weeks,” Aden told Sport360 on Friday at the Dubai Police Stadium.
Dibaba is the current world champion and world record holder in the 1,500m and also owns world records indoors in the 1,500m, 3,000m, mile, two miles and 5,000m. Aden says the 25-year-old is yet to decide on her schedule for the Rio Olympics.
“Genzebe is a versatile athlete and can run many different distances, the 1,500m, the 3,000, 5,000…” said the Somalian former middle-distance runner.
“She wanted to test herself in the 10,000m and perhaps go for the world record or run the distance in Rio this summer. This injury is a small setback and we haven’t decided yet which events she’ll be doing in Rio, be it the 1,500m or the 5,000m or the 10,000.”
Aden also coaches Ethiopian-born Emiratis, Alia Saeed and Betlhem Belayneh, who will both be competing in the 10,000m Saturday.
Saeed is the reigning Asian champion in the event while Belayneh, specialised in the 1,500m and 5,000m, will be running in support of her team-mate.
“Alia is in good shape and she wants to smash her own national record,” said Aden. “She has already qualified to Rio but she wants to cement her status and showcase her skills, competing against the best.”
The President’s Cup kicked off Friday with UAE Olympian and former Asian champion, Omar Al Salfa, helping Al Ahli club pull-off an impressive victory in the 4x100m relay race.
Al Nasr were in command before Al Salfa secured victory in the final stretch for Ahli, who clocked 40.89 seconds. Nasr took silver with 41.48s while Emirates club were an 5.38 seconds behind in third.
Al Salfa made history for the UAE when he became the first Emirati to make a quarter-final at the World Athletics Championships in 2009. He stopped competing for three years after undergoing knee surgery but has returned to competition this season looking to regain his form.
“I’m not focused on my timings this meet. What is important is to claim the Cup for Al Ahli,” said the 29-year-old, who also took silver on Friday night in the 200m, behind his brother Bilal.
With increased prize money, sponsorship deals and fame at stake, doping has become an ever-present thorn in the side of modern sport.
Whether by accident (!) or just to cheat, athletes in almost every professional sport have been caught and subsequently reprimanded by the authorities.
Many of the guilty sportsmen and women are unheard of (hence the need to improve their performance illegally) and their suspensions largely go unnoticed. However our friends at www.ticketsmove.com have created this infographic that charts the downfalls of some of sport’s biggest stars, at the peak of their careers.
Have there been any major players missed off the list? Tweet us your thoughts using #360Fans.
It’s not every day the IOC and IAAF decide to change the Olympics schedule just to make it more feasible for one athlete to potentially compete in two different events in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
Then again, considering that change was made for Allyson Felix, the decision really was a no-brainer.
The multiple-time Olympic and world champion is gunning for a rare 200-400m double in the upcoming Games in Brazil but the original schedule could have seen her contest the 200m first round and the 400m final in the same evening session on August 15 with only 75 minutes in between.
But thanks to a petition from USA Track and Field, which was accepted by the IOC and IAAF, the 200m first round heats have been moved to the morning session, giving Felix a few more hours between both events.
While the schedule will still be gruelling for Felix, at least she won’t have to run multiple events in the same session.
Felix, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m and current world champion in the 400m, has competed in the shorter distance in each of her three previous appearances at the Games.
The American sprinter won her first Olympic medal as an 18-year-old in Athens 2004 when she took silver in the 200m.
She claimed 200 silver again in Beijing 2008 along with gold in the 4×400 relay before topping the podium in the 200, 4×100 and 4×400 in London 2012 to become the USA’s most decorated female track and field athlete.
Felix has never contested the 400m (outside the relays) at the Olympics but she received a welcome boost when she won her first World Championship gold medal in the event in Beijing last year with a personal best time of 49.26 seconds.
That victory took Felix’s World Championship tally to a staggering nine golds, the most ever won by an American athlete, seeing her eclipse Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson. She also became the first woman to win World titles in the 200m and 400m and also broke her tie with Lewis and LaShawn Merritt for the most Worlds medals by an American.
The 30-year-old admits she never imagined surpassing such legends.
“It’s funny I never really considered myself in that company,” Felix told Sport360 at the Nike Innovation Summit in New York, where she unveiled the Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit that was specifically designed for her.
“Every year I’ve just tried to do the best that I can and I looked up one day and I was like ‘oh wow’, I didn’t even know that those records were there.
“So it’s fun, just always pushing myself and it’s a huge honour to be in any sentence with them. I still feel like it’s not right, but it’s cool.”
On winning her first major 400m title in Beijing, Felix said: “It was really encouraging actually. I feel like for the longest time people have always told me that I could be good in that event and it’s not that I didn’t believe them, but it’s just a race where you really have to trust yourself in your training.
“It’s very different because being a sprinter you just want to run, you want to just go all out and this race makes you have a strategy and you have to do all this extra stuff.
“So I would say it was encouraging and it also let me know that I had more there and I’m getting closer to my potential.”
The Californian is looking to become just the third woman in history – behind American Valerie Brisco-Hooks in 1984 and France’s Marie-Jose Perec in 1996 – to win both the 200m and 400m at the same Olympics.
But chasing history is not Felix’s primary motivation behind her shot at the double.
“I would say the biggest drive is kind of a challenge to myself. Just the fact that I’ve done the sprints and this is something new,” she explained.
“For the past three Olympic Games I’ve run the 200m and I feel like now is the time, if I want to do this it has to be now. So just challenge myself, push myself and prove to myself if I can do this.”
While Felix is pleased the Rio Olympics schedule is slightly better than the original one, she admits she was hoping to have a day off between both events. She says she has already been mentally wrapping her head around what that stressful day of August 15 might look like, so she is prepared if and when it comes.
Felix says training has been tricky at times but she is excited at the prospect of competing in both, although she is only focused on the US Olympic Trials coming up in July.
“It’s a bit intense,” she said of her training regimen. “For me, running the 400, I think that still my biggest asset is my speed, and so I am a sprinter, I train like a sprinter but I have to do a lot more volume, so that’s not always fun.
“But that’s probably the biggest key, a balance between speed and volume.”
Felix has long been an advocate for clean sport and she volunteered to be part of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s ‘Project Believe’ pro- gramme and regularly gets tested to ensure that her body is free of performance-enhancing drugs.
Unfortunately, track and field continues to be tainted by doping and the scandal regarding Russian athletes casts a big shadow on the sport.
“It’s disheartening honestly, it’s frustrating,” said Felix of the allegations of the state-sponsored doping that is believed to be rampant among Russian athletes, and which might keep them out of the Olympics.
“You feel like you’re taking a step forward sometimes and then you’re knocked back two steps so it is difficult.
“But I just try to go with what I can control and I try to bring positivity. For me, just knowing that I have my integrity and my character is reward enough. So I’m hoping that going into Rio things will be getting cleaned up.”
Does she think the Russians should compete in Rio?
“It’s not for me to decide, I just hope that when we get to Rio that it would be a clean Olympics.”