August 14, 2009 / 8:46 AM / 9 years ago

Champion Dibaba to miss 10,000 m, Sihine out

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba will be unable to defend her world 10,000 metres title after failing to recover from a leg injury, team officials said on Friday.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba recovers after winning the women's 5000m race during the London Grand Prix athletics tournament at Crystal Palace in London July 25, 2009. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Files

Dibaba, who won the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Beijing Olympics, has not raced much this season but was hopeful of taking part in the world championships after performing well at the London Grand Prix last month.

She could still run in the 5,000, where she is seeking a third world title having triumphed over the distance in 2003 and 2005.

Completing a bad day for the family, her husband, 2004 and 2008 Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Sileshi Sihine, has also pulled out of the men’s 10,000 through injury.

The team’s technical leader, Dube Jillo, said the news was a big blow to Ethiopia’s medal prospects.

“We had hoped that they would recover in time but this is something unexpected and therefore we are all very disappointed,” he told the team’s world championships website (www.ethioberlin2009.com).

While Dibaba will definitely miss the 10,000, a straight final on Saturday’s opening day of competition, she could still make the 5,000 heats on Tuesday.

“She has said: ‘I will try my best to run,’” Jillo said. “We will wait until the last minute to see if she can run.”

The Ethiopian team will not be allowed to replace Dibaba because she qualified for Berlin as a wild card as defending champion.

Imane Merga will take Sihine’s place in the 10,000.

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