Meseret Defar

Meseret Defar Tola (Amharic: መሰረት ደፋር; born 19 November 1983) is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who competes chiefly in the 3000 metres and 5000 metres events. She has won medals at top-tier international competitions including Olympic and World Championship gold medals over 5000 metres. She broke the world record in the event in 2006, broke it again in 2007 and held it until 2008, when fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba beat her time.

Meseret Defar
5106 defar 3000m (26069156306).jpg
Defar in 2016
Personal information
Born (1983-11-19) 19 November 1983 (age 36)
near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia[1]
Height155 cm (5 ft 1 in)[2]
Weight42 kg (93 lb)[3]
Country Ethiopia
Event(s)3000 metres, 5000 metres

In 2007 on a track in Brussels Belgium, she became the only woman, with a 2-mile run in less than 9 minutes (8:58.58). This was an improvement on the world record by 11 seconds.[4]

Defar has been successful in the 5000 m at the Olympic Games, taking gold at the 2012 London Olympics, 2004 Athens Olympics and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She has experienced similar success in the World Championships, taking silver in 2005 Helsinki Championships and gold at the 2007 Osaka Championships.

Defar held the indoor records for the 5000 metres, 3000 metres and two-mile run. She has dominated the 3000 m indoor event, winning four consecutive gold medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships from 2004 to 2010. She is also a two-time champion at the All-Africa Games, a four-time medalist at the African Championships and a two-time gold medalist at the World Junior Championships.

Defar took a break from competition in 2014 in order to start a family. She vowed to return by 2015 although she did not compete in the August World Championships in Beijing.[5]



Defar won the 5000 metres gold medal at the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in 2003. She won gold medals in the women's 5000 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens with a time of 14:45.65 and 5000 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She also won bronze medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics, which turned in a silver medal after the disqualification of Turkish athlete Elvan Abeylegesse.

World RecordsEdit

On 3 June 2006 she ran the 5000 metres in New York City in a then-world record time of 14:24.53 – she subsequently improved the record to 14:16.63 at the Bislett Games in Oslo on 15 June 2007. On 3 February 2007 she ran the 3000 metres indoor in Stuttgart (Germany) in a world record time of 8:23.72. On 20 May 2007 she ran the 2 mile in Carson, California in a world best time of 9:10.47.[6] On 1 September 2007 she won gold in 14:57.91 at 5000 m at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, to go along with her Olympic victory and world record.[7][8] On 14 September 2007, she set a world best (8:58.58) in the women's 2-mile (3.2 km) at the Van Damme Memorial meet, shaving 11.89 seconds off the 9:10.47 mark she set in May at Carson, California.[9] Also in 2007, Defar won the female IAAF World Athlete of the Year award.[10]

World ChampionshipsEdit

She won a silver medal at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, losing only to Tirunesh Dibaba. In 2006, she won the World Indoor Championships over 3000 metres, defending her title from the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships. In the Reebok Boston Indoor meeting of January 2008, Defar ran a time of 9:10.50 in the two-mile (3.2 km) event to establish a new two-mile indoor world best time, breaking the previous indoor best by over twelve seconds.[11] Defar won her third consecutive World Indoor gold medal in the 3000 m at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Athletics. At the 2008 African Championships in Athletics, Defar was defeated in the 5000 m by compatriot Meselech Melkamu. At the 2008 Bislett Games, Defar's 5000 m world record was broken by Tirunesh Dibaba. She took a 3000/5000 m double at the 2008 World Athletics Final. Defar began the 2009 athletics season by improving upon her personal bests, setting a new 5000 m world indoor record of 14:24.37 and an indoor world best over two miles (3.2 km) with a 9:06.26 run.[12] She competed in the 10,000 metres event at the British national trials in July, attempting to take a spot on the Ethiopian team at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. In spite of the wet and windy conditions, she ran a personal best of 29:59.20 minutes – breaking Paula Radcliffe's UK all-comers’ record, becoming the fifth woman to run sub-30 minutes, and earning qualification for the Championships in the process.[13]

In Berlin, Meseret was leading the 2009 World Championships in Athletics – Women's 10,000 metres until the last 50 metres when her legs appeared to dramatically tie up, handing the gold medal to Kenya's Linet Masai and was passed by three other athletes, finishing with a time of 30:52.37. She then ran in the 2009 World Championships in Athletics – Women's 5000 metres final and was leading at the top of the home straight, but was passed by two Kenyan with metres to go, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sylvia Kibet. She went on to beat both athletes in the 3000 m at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final a month later, setting a world leading time of 8:30.15 in the process.

Rebounding from her bronze medal championship performance, she scored a fourth straight gold medal in the 3000 m at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Moving on to the road circuit, she won her third title at the Carlsbad 5000, although her time of 15:04 did not trouble her own course record.[14] At the 2010 African Championships in Athletics, she represented Ethiopia in the 5000 m and won the silver medal behind Vivian Cheruiyot. SHe won the 3000 m gold at the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup a month later. She made her half marathon debut at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and succeeded first time, winning in a time of 1:07:44. This mark improved upon Berhane Adere's fastest time on American soil for the distance and was the fifth fastest ever debut.[15]

At the beginning of 2011 she made a world record attempt for the indoor 3000 m and came just short with a run of 8:36.91 minutes.[16] She was dominant on the outdoor circuit, taking 5000 m wins at the FBK Games, Bislett Games and Meeting Areva. Her win streak ended at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, where she first dropped out of the 10,000 m then was beaten by Vivian Cheruiyot and Sylvia Kibet in the 5000 m, ending up with the bronze medal.[17]

At the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships she aimed for a fifth straight title and was leading until the last 100 m, at which point she fell behind Hellen Obiri and finished the race as runner-up.[18] A haul of second-place finishes followed in the outdoor season, as she came runner-up to Cheruiyot twice and fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba.[17][19] In spite of this, when it came to the 5000 m final at the 2012 London Olympics she outran both her rivals to claim her second Olympic title over the distance.[20]

She began her indoor track season in 2013 with a 3000 m win in 8:35.28 minutes.[21] Later than month she ran a half marathon best of 67:25 minutes to break the course record at the New Orleans Half Marathon.[22]

She won her second world title in the 5000m 2013 World Championships in Athletics in Moscow in a time of 14:50:19. She won the race by staying close to the front, but without taking the lead before pulling away with 200m left.

Personal bestsEdit

Defar at the World Indoor Championships in 2008
Type Event Time Date Place Notes
Outdoor 1500 metres 4:02.00 12 June 2010 New York City, New York, United States
2000 metres 5:45.62 8 June 2008 Eugene, Oregon, United States
3000 metres 8:24.51+ 14 September 2007 Brussels, Belgium
Two miles 8:58.58 14 September 2007 Brussels, Belgium World Record
5000 metres 14:12.88 22 July 2008 Stockholm, Sweden
10,000 metres 29:59.20 11 July 2009 Birmingham, England
10 km (road) 32:08 25 February 2007 San Juan, Puerto Rico
Half marathon (road) 66:09 a 15 September 2013 South Shields, United Kingdom
67:25 24 February 2013 New Orleans, United States
Marathon (road) 2:23:33 10 March 2019 Nagoya, Japan
Indoor 3000 metres 8:23.72 2 February 2007 Brussels, Belgium
Two miles 9:06.26 26 February 2009 Prague, Czech Republic
5000 metres 14:24.37 18 February 2009 Stockholm, Sweden
  • All information taken from IAAF profile.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Meseret Defar". International Association of Athletics Federations. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Meseret Defar". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Meseret Defar". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Eder, Larry (6 March 2014). "Meseret Defar is pregnant, will miss 2014, back in 2015, by EME News". RunBlogRun. Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  6. ^ Meseret Defar 2mile WR 9:10.47 at Carson – YouTube video
  7. ^ 2007 World Championships Women 5000m result – IAAF
  8. ^ 2007 WC 5000m women's – YouTube video
  9. ^ Meseret Defar 2mile WR 8:58.58 at IAAF Golden League-Brussels – YouTube video
  10. ^ "Gay and Defar are World Athletes of the Year – Powell and Vlasic win Performance of the Year Award". IAAF. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  11. ^ Morse, Parker. "Defar runs 9:10.50 Two Miles World best in Boston". IAAF. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  12. ^ Ramsak, Bob (26 February 2009). "Defar runs 9:06.26 Two Miles World best in Prague". IAAF. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  13. ^ Brown, Matthew (12 July 2009). "Defar clocks 29:59.20 in Birmingham to secure Berlin ticket". IAAF. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  14. ^ Cruz, Dan (12 April 2010). "Defar and Kipchoge prevail in Carlsbad". IAAF. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  15. ^ Larkin, Duncan (20 September 2010). "Defar clocks 1:07:44 in Half Marathon debut in Philadelphia". IAAF. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  16. ^ Julin, A. Lennart (23 February 2011). "With three more World junior records, Bengtsson steals the spotlight in Stockholm". IAAF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Focus on Athletes - Meseret Defar". IAAF. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  18. ^ Johnson, Len (11 March 2012). "EVENT REPORT - Women's 3000 Metres - Final". IAAF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  19. ^ Rowbottom, Mike (11 May 2012). "Middle distance magic highlights hot results in Doha – Samsung Diamond League". IAAF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  20. ^ Martin, David (10 August 2012). "London 2012 - Event Report - Women's 5000m Final". IAAF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  21. ^ Gordon, Ed (2 February 2013). "Defar delights over 3000m, five world-leading marks in Karlsruhe". IAAF. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  22. ^ "Defar and Farah set course records in New Orleans". IAAF. 24 February 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
  Elvan Abeylegesse
Women's 5,000 m World Record Holder
June 3, 2006 – June 6, 2008
Succeeded by
  Tirunesh Dibaba
Preceded by
  Liliya Shobukhova
Women's 3,000m Indoor World Record Holder
February 3, 2007  – February 6, 2014
Succeeded by
  Genzebe Dibaba
Preceded by
  Sanya Richards
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
  Tirunesh Dibaba
Sporting positions
Preceded by
  Maryam Yusuf Jamal
  Vivian Cheruiyot
Women's 3,000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
  Vivian Cheruiyot
  Sentayehu Ejigu
Preceded by
  Elvan Abeylegesse
Women's 5,000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
  Tirunesh Dibaba