September 27, 2007


A recurrence of a stomach problem has forced Tirunesh Dibaba to withdraw from Saturday's BUPA three kilometres road race, a warm-up event for the Great North Run.

The 22-year-old Ethiopian successfully defended her World Championships 10,000m title earlier this month despite running with the complaint and also falling during the race in Osaka.

Dibaba last weekend felt she had sufficiently recovered to fly to Tyneside and challenge the world best of eight minutes 46.9seconds set by compatriot Meseret Defar last year.

"Unfortunately, she is again suffering from stomach cramps and unable to make the trip," said Matthew Turnbull, the meeting's elite athletes director.

"It's a great disappointment because she undoubtedly, along with Vivian Cheruiyot if fully fit, had the ability to attack Defar's world best."

Kenya's Cheruiyot, the world 5,000m silver medallist behind Defar and winner over the distance at Sunday's World Athletics final, will still face a serious challenge.

Dibaba's replacement Meselech Melkamu, travelling back from the final to Ethiopia last night, switched flights at her stopover in Dubai and is now heading for Newcastle.

"She's another of the world's best middle distance runners," Turnbull said of Ethiopia's former world junior cross country champion.

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