By Raf Casert
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BEIJING _ Genzebe Dibaba has some high standards to meet.
Not only did she remain on track to match the two gold medals big sister Tirunesh won at the same stadium seven years ago, she is also shooting for her older sibling’s world record, too.
Under the morning sun on Thursday at the Bird’s Nest, Dibaba ran easily before putting in a little kick for home to win her 5,000-meter heat in 15 minutes, 20.82 seconds. That was more than a minute behind the world record her sister set in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won the 5,000-10,000 double.
It’s a time gap that does not daunt Dibaba at all.
“I can run faster than the current world record,” said Dibaba, who set a world record in the 1,500 last month.
If she wants the record in Sunday’s final, she will likely have to change the tactics she used to win her first gold in Beijing _ the 1,500 _ when she hung back for half the race before kicking for home.
Dibaba is confident she has the sustained pace despite the warm conditions in Beijing, where track temperatures have often hovered around 30 degrees C (86 degrees F). She has been training in Barcelona in similar conditions ahead of the world championships.
The future may be beckoning for the 24-year-old Dibaba, but it is now posing a huge question mark for American long jumper Brittney Reese.
At 28, she was the three-time defending champion and the reigning Olympic champion, yet she failed to make it to the final with a best jump of 6.39 metres, well short of the qualifying mark of 6.75. She came into the championships with a bad back and it showed.
Instead, Katarina Johnson-Thompson finally got in a legal long jump and made it count. The British athlete saw her challenge for heptathlon gold falter on Sunday when she failed to get a mark on her three attempts. In the individual long jump, she went beyond the automatic qualifying mark on her second attempt with a leap of 6.79.
Reese’s exit ended the hopes for another gold medal for the United States, which has been struggling in the championships with only one gold and nine overall so far. Kenya leads with six gold and 11 overall.
The Americans will be hoping that Justin Gatlin can beat Usain Bolt in the 200 late Thursday in the marquee event of the day. Bolt is looking to extend his record at the worlds to 10 golds overall after he won the 100 in a showdown with Gatlin.
Still, the U.S. team stands a good chance for more gold on Thursday.
Allyson Felix is a three-time 200 champion and is favoured to add the 400. And in the men’s triple jump, Olympic champion Christian Taylor is poised for a high profile confrontation with Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba after both went over the 18-meter mark this season.
In the women’s hammer throw, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to challenge Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland, who set the world record of 81.08 metres this season.
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