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From Ethiopia to the World: The Story of the Dibaba Sisters, The Fastest Sisters in the History


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In the world of track and field, few names are as iconic as the Dibaba sisters from Ethiopia.

The Dibaba sisters have established themselves as a brand like that of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams.

Dubbed the fastest family on earth, Tirunesh, Genzebe, Ejegayehu, Anna, and Melat hold a unique record in the history of athletics, as the only siblings to simultaneously hold world records.

Together, they have amassed an impressive collection of four Olympic gold medals, two silver medals, three bronze, and 15 world championships, solidifying their status as sporting icons.

These siblings have dominated the sport for over a decade, setting records and winning medals at the Olympics, World Championships, and other major events.

Their success is nothing short of extraordinary, and it has helped to put Ethiopia on the map as a major force in athletics.

So, how did the Dibaba sisters become the fastest family on earth? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at their inspiring story.

Rise to Prominence

In 2003, the Dibaba sisters made their international debut at the World Championships in Paris. Tirunesh, the youngest of the three, won her first gold medal in the 5,000 meters.

It was the start of a remarkable career that would see her become one of the most successful female distance runners in history.

Tirunesh, the most decorated among the Dibaba sisters, has achieved three Olympic gold medals in her career.

She etched her name in the history books during the 2008 Beijing Olympics by becoming the first woman to win gold in both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races.

She continued her winning streak by bagging another gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, becoming the first woman to win this event at two consecutive Olympic games.

Genzebe, another Dibaba sister, won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while their elder sister Ejegayehu, also an Olympian, earned a silver medal in Athens.

Their cousin Derartu Tulu, who is also a runner, was the first Black African woman to secure an Olympic gold medal during the 1992 games.

The sisters hail from a humble background and were raised in a tukul, a traditional round mud hut without electricity, three hours south of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

What makes the story of the Dibaba sisters even more remarkable is that they were raised by peasant parents who earned their livelihood from farming barley and wheat.

Also read: The Life and Legacy of Haile Selassie, The Last Emperor of Ethiopia

Their mother, Gutu, attributes their success to a nurturing environment and a steady supply of milk from their family livestock.

Despite growing up in a round mud hut without electricity, the Dibaba sisters worked hard to achieve their dreams of becoming successful athletes, and their hard work paid off.

The Dibaba family is a large one, with seven siblings, and it seems that every member of the family has a talent for running.

Tirunesh Tirunesh – A Champion with Three Olympic Gold Medals and a World Record

Tirunesh Tirunesh is a celebrated athlete with an impressive record of three Olympic gold medals, five world championship medals, and a world record in the 5000m race.

In 2008, she tied the knot with fellow Olympic medalist Sileshi Sihine in a grand ceremony that drew half a million people and was nationally televised in Ethiopia.

The couple is blessed with a son named Nathan. Tirunesh’s achievements have placed her among the all-time greats in track and field.

Ejegayehu – The Eldest Sister with Impressive Olympic and World Championship Records

Ejegayehu is the eldest sister in the Dibaba family and an accomplished athlete in her own right. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, she won a silver medal in the 10,000m race.

She also has bronze medals in both the 5000m and 10,000m races from the 2005 World Championships.

Ejegayehu’s impressive Olympic and World Championship records have made her an inspiration to aspiring athletes worldwide.

Genzebe – World Records, Athlete of the Year Awards, and Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year

Genzebe is the youngest of the three Dibaba sisters, and her achievements have been nothing short of exceptional.

In 2015, she won the IAAF’s Athlete of the Year award, a highly coveted honour in athletics, after breaking her first outdoor world record in the 1500m race and winning the 1500m title.

Genzebe’s incredible performances also saw her break three world indoor records in just two weeks in 2014, earning her the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award. Her talent and hard work continue to inspire a new generation of athletes around the world.

Secrets to Their Success

So, what is the secret to the Dibaba sisters’ success? For one, they come from a long line of runners.

The Dibaba sisters have consistently shared that their cousin Derartu Tulu was their inspiration to pursue athletics.

Tulu is renowned in the annals of history as the first Black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the 1992 games.

At 37, she emerged victorious at the New York City marathon in 2009, cementing her status as a legend in the sport.

Their older sister, Ejegayehu, won a silver medal in the same event at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

But it’s not just genetics that have made the Dibaba sisters so successful. They have also worked incredibly hard over the years, putting in long hours of training and staying disciplined with their diet and lifestyle.

They have also benefited from the support of their family and community, who have encouraged them every step of the way.

Tirunesh, in particular, has become a role model for women in Ethiopia and around the world. She has used her platform to promote women’s rights and has been an advocate for girls’ education.

She is also a UNICEF ambassador and has worked to raise awareness about the importance of access to clean water and sanitation.


Today, the Dibaba sisters are considered to be among the greatest athletes of all time. Like earlier stated, Tirunesh has won three Olympic gold medals and five World Championship titles, while Genzebe holds the world record in the 1500 meters.

Their achievements have inspired a new generation of runners in Ethiopia and around the world, proving that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.

Apart from their exceptional performances in the world of sports, the Dibaba sisters have also made significant investments in their communities with the proceeds earned from their successes.

They have become prominent real estate moguls, owning multiple high-rise buildings in Addis Ababa. These investments have not only brought economic benefits to their communities but have also made a significant contribution to the real estate industry in Ethiopia.

The Dibaba sisters continue to make their country proud in the realm of track sports with their outstanding performances and philanthropic contributions.

In conclusion, the Dibaba sisters from Ethiopia are a true testament to the power of hard work and perseverance.

Their success in athletics has not only brought them fame and fortune but has also inspired countless others to pursue their dreams. They are a shining example of what can be achieved when talent and dedication meets.


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