How the Ethiopian Dibaba sisters formed the world's fastest family

Nov 24, 2022 - 01:31
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How the Ethiopian Dibaba sisters formed the world's fastest family

At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Ethiopian distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba made history by becoming the first woman to win gold in both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events.
She won the 10,000-meter gold medal again in 2012 in London, making history as the first woman to win the competition twice.

She was inspired by a family of runners. She and her sisters have actually excelled in the sport of distance running.
The Dibaba sisters, Tirunesh, Genzebe, Anna, and Melat, are a fiercely competitive family from a lowly background and the only siblings in recorded history to hold concurrent world records.

They were raised without electricity in a circular mud home in Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia.
Their parents were teff, wheat, and barley farmers who lived off the land.
In actuality, there are seven Dibaba siblings in all, and they all race.
With three Olympic gold medals, Tirunesh is the most accomplished.
She had intended to enroll in school but decided instead to join the sports team for the Corrections (Prisons Police).

She made her international debut at the age of 15 with Ethiopia's junior team in the 2001 World Cross-Country Championships, finishing in fifth place.
In 2002, she continued with cross-country and track silver medals at the junior level.
She became the youngest-ever world champion in her sport in 2003 after winning the junior cross-country championship of the world, setting a junior world record over 5,000 meters, and taking home gold in the 5,000 meters at the IAAF world track and field championships.

Genzebe, her sister, isn't performing poorly in athletics.
Their older sister, Ejegayehu, also competed in the Olympics and brought home a silver medal from Athens.
Derartu Tulu, their cousin, became the first Black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the 1992 competitions.
In Sydney in 2000, she earned a another Olympic gold medal.

According to Ato Boldon, the track commentator for NBC, "it's not a leap to claim they are the world's fastest family," he told Vogue in 2016.
The sisters continue to be well-known in Ethiopia, which, together with Kenya, has given the world some of the best runners.

The mother of the Dibaba sisters reportedly told Vogue that the sisters' success may be attributed to the environment in which they were nurtured, particularly the ready access to milk provided by the family's cows.
According to author David Epstein, who spoke with Vogue, a large portion of Ethiopia and Kenya are located in an altitude "sweet zone" that is high enough to induce physiological changes but not too high to prevent intensive exercise.

The runners' success is also credited to their nutrition, particularly to the iron- and calcium-rich teff they consumed, as well as to their "compact lightweight physique."
Analysts claim that the Dibaba sisters have a physique type that is suitable for sports.
In 2016, Boldon claimed that if the sisters were compared to a car, it would be a Ford Focus with a Ferrari engine.

Although the Dibabas are skilled athletes, they don't much enjoy watching sports.
According to Tirunesh, who in 2008 wed fellow track and field Olympic winner Sileshi Sihine in a nationally publicized wedding ceremony, they like movies, particularly Amharic flicks.

And like other accomplished athletes, the Dibabas have donated money to their local communities.
The sisters are real estate moguls who control a number of properties in Addis Abeba along with their in-laws.
The sisters are still a shining light in the world of sports.

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