There had been speculation that Genzebe Dibaba would do something special Wednesday at the IAAF World Indoor Tour’s event in Stockholm. The Ethiopian track star had broken world records at the track in each of the past two years, and she was taking aim at another mark, this one for the indoor mile.
That record had stood for 26 years, but Dibaba didn’t just break it; she destroyed it. Dibaba zipped around the Ericsson Global Arena track Wednesday in a stunning 4 minutes 13.31 seconds, eclipsing Doina Melinte of Romania’s standard of 4:17.14, set in 1990.
Dibaba finished more than 11 seconds ahead of countrywoman Gudaf Tsegay, who came in second at 4:24.98. Another Ethiopian, Axumawit Embaye, finished third with a time of 4:27.75.
Melinte’s record was older than Dibaba herself, given that the latter is just 25. The outdoor record, still the all-time mark, was set in 1996 by Russia’s Svetlana Masterkova, who ran a mile in 4:12.56.
Dibaba now owns five world records, including the outdoor 1,500 meters mark and indoor records in the 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. The final two of those marks were set at the Stockholm track in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Dibaba’s was the second world record set at the indoor meet, which also saw her training partner, Ayanleh Souleiman, take down the mark in the men’s 1,000 meter with a time of 2:14.20. The Djibouti runner bettered a 2007 record held by Kenyan-born Danish athlete Wilson Kipketer by 0.76 seconds.
A participant in the 2012 Olympics, Dibaba is a favorite to win at least one gold medal at the Summer Games this year in Rio de Janeiro. Her sister, Tirunesh Dibaba, is a three-time gold medalist in the 5000- and 10,000-meter races.