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Dibaba withdraws from Bislett Games

OSLO -- Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba pulled out of a highly anticipated duel against fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar in the women's 5,000 meters at the Bislett Games on Thursday because of a leg injury.

After having avoided each other the past two years in the Golden League meet at Bislett Stadium, the two finally seemed set to compete in the same race. But Dibaba sustained a minor leg injury during training on Tuesday and was forced to push back her return to competition.

"I did a speed session on the track and felt a slight pain in my leg," Dibaba said on her Web site. "I hope it is nothing serious, but I did not want to risk my chances of successfully defending my world 10,000-meter title in Berlin next month."

Defar was disappointed when she heard the news.

"We could have run a very good race," Defar said Thursday night at the annual pre-meet Strawberry Party at Oslo's City Hall. "It will not happen now, but I still hope to run a good race. The 5,000-meter world record is a difficult one. I'll do my best tomorrow."

The 24-year-old Dibaba, who won both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter gold medals in last year's Olympics, finished second in her season debut race in New York six weeks ago.

Defar shattered the previous world record by nearly eight seconds, winning in 14:16.63 at the 2007 Bislett Games.

"Oslo is a very special place for me," Defar said. "I have very good memories from Oslo. I wanted to break the world record, but I did not expect to break it that much."

Last year, Dibaba won in 14:11.15 -- the 53rd world record since 1924 at Bislett. Later that year, Defar narrowly missed the record when she won in Stockholm in 14:12.88.

Also running is Vivian Cheruiyot, who has the fourth-fastest time (14:22.51), set in Oslo two years ago when she finished second behind Defar. Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia, who recently set a personal best in under 30 minutes, is also entered.

Former world record-holder Asafa Powell of Jamica heads the men's 100-meter field and will try to become only the second man in history with more than 50 sub-10-second results. Maurice Greene of the United States has 53.

"I was thinking about that earlier," Powell said. "I always had some good races here and I'm really looking forward to go on the track and post a good time. It's hot here, my kind of weather. I guess we perform better in warm weather."