Letesenbet Gidey
Letesenbet at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene
Personal information
Born (1998-03-20) 20 March 1998 (age 25)
Endameskel, Tigray Region, Ethiopia
Height1.66 m (5 ft 5 in)[1]
Weight50 kg (110 lb)[1]
Event(s)Track, road and cross-country long-distance running
TeamNN Running Team
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals
  • 2021 Tokyo
  • 10,000 m,  Bronze
World finals
  • 2017 London
  • 5000 m, 11th
  • 2019 Doha
  • 10,000 m,  Silver
  • 2022 Eugene
  • 5000 m, 5th
  • 10,000 m,  Gold
  • 2023 Budapest
  • 10,000 m,  Silver
Highest world ranking1st (10,000 m, 2023)[2]
Personal bests
Medal record
Women's athletics
Representing  Ethiopia
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 2020 Tokyo 10,000 m
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2022 Eugene 10,000 m
Silver medal – second place 2019 Doha 10,000 m
Silver medal – second place 2023 Budapest 10,000 m
World Cross Country Championships
Gold medal – first place 2015 Guiyang Junior race
Gold medal – first place 2015 Guiyang Junior team
Gold medal – first place 2017 Kampala Junior race
Gold medal – first place 2017 Kampala Junior team
Gold medal – first place 2019 Aarhus Senior team
Bronze medal – third place 2019 Aarhus Senior race
World Marathon Majors
Silver medal – second place 2023 New York Marathon

Letesenbet Gidey (Tigrinya: ለተሰንበት ግደይ, born 20 March 1998)[3] is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who holds two world records and one world best. In the 10,000 metres, she is the 2020 Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist, 2019 World silver medallist, and 2022 World champion.

Letesenbet holds the current world records for the 10,000 metres and half marathon, which she set in June 2021 and October 2021, respectively. She is only the second athlete, after Ingrid Kristiansen from 1989–1991, to hold the two world records simultaneously.[4] Her record in the half marathon, making Letesenbet the first debutante to set a world record in the event, broke the previous mark by more than a minute.[5][6] She also holds the world best in the 15 km road race, which was also an over one-minute improvement. Letesenbet became the first woman to break the 64 and 63-minute barriers in the half marathon and the 45-minute barrier in the 15 km. She recorded the fastest women's marathon debut in history at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, placing her seventh on the respective world all-time list.

At age 17, Letesenbet won the junior race at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships. She retained the title in 2017 to take a bronze medal in the senior race in 2019.

Early life and background

Letesenbet Gidey was born in Endameskel in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia. She is the youngest of four siblings, having two brothers and a sister, and grew up on the family's farm.[7]

She was expelled from school as a 13-year-old for refusing to run in physical education classes and was only allowed to return when she agreed to participate. She then won the 2,000 m / 3,000 m steeplechase double for the Tigray region at the Ethiopian Schools Championships in Shashemane in late 2012.[7]

Junior career


On 14 June, 16-year-old Letesenbet ran the 5,000 metres at the Ethiopian Championships to finish third with a time of 16:19.30. Almaz Ayana won with a time of 16:11.40, and Kidsan Alema was second with 16:13.48.[3][8]


On 1 February, she won the junior 6 km race at the Jan Meda International Cross Country in Addis Ababa – Ethiopia's trials for the World Cross Country Championships – with a time of 20:30.[9]

On 28 March, she competed in her first international race outside of Ethiopia at the World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China, claiming the world under-20 title on a 6.03 km course in a time of 19:48; together with her Ethiopian teammates Letesenbet also took the team title with a clean individual podium sweep. Just eight days after her 17 birthday, she was the youngest junior women's winner for 15 years.[10]

On 21 June, she won the 5,000 m run in Bottrop, Germany, with a time of 15:39.83. The runner-up was Jana Groß-Hardt in 17:06.33. At first, Letesenbet was disqualified because she had stepped on a marking on the track, and Groß-Hardt stood at the top of the podium during the award ceremony. Letesenbet objected to this decision, reasoning that her misstep had not given her an unfair advantage, and as a result of her appeal, she was reinstated as the winner.[11][12][13]

On 15 July, she ran the 3,000 m girls' race at the World U18 Championships in Cali, Colombia, finishing fourth with a time of 9:04.64.[3]


On 22 May, an 18-year-old Letesenbet took victory in the 5,000 metres at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands, in a time of 14:58.44.[3] On 30 June, she won the event at a track meet in Barcelona with a time of 14:45.63, defeating multiple world record holder Genzebe Dibaba who dropped out after 3,600 m.[14]


At age 19, Letesenbet (L in yellow) debuted in the World Athletics Championships at the 2017 edition in London, advancing to the 5000 m final.

She won the women's junior race at the Ethiopian Cross Country championships on 13 February in Addis Ababa.[15]

On 26 March, she defended her junior title on a 6 km course at the World Cross Country Championship in Kampala, Uganda.[16]

The then 19-year-old competed in the 5000 m event at the World Championships in London. She advanced to the finals and finished 11th of 14 starters, stopping the clock at 15:04.99. The race was won by Hellen Obiri in a time of 14:34.86, the silver medal went to Almaz Ayana, who ran 14:40.35, and Sifan Hassan was third in 14:42.74.[17]

Senior career


In February, Letesenbet won the 6 km race at the sixth leg of the IAAF Cross Country Permit series taking place in San Vittore Olona, Italy. Her winning time was 18:14.[18] On 26 May, she ran the 5,000 m at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, U.S. and placed second in a time of 14:30.29, beating Obiri in third in 14:35.03; Genzebe Dibaba won the race in 14:26.89.[19]

2019: World 10,000 m silver medallist

On 10 February, Letesenbet competed in the 10 km run at the Jan Meda Cross Country Championships in Addis Ababa, finishing second with a time of 35:55. The winner of the event was Dera Dida in 35:50.[20]

At the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, she participated in the senior race. The world 5000 m champion Hellen Obiri took the title on the extremely hilly 10.2 km course with a time of 36:14, Dida was the runner-up in 36:16, and Letesenbet earned the bronze medal by clocking 36:24.[21]

She raced the 10,000 m at the Ethiopian Championships in Addis Ababa on 8 May, winning in a time of 32:10.2.[3] On 19 May, Letesenbet ran the 10 km road race in Bengaluru, India. She placed second, with Agnes Tirop the winner and Senbere Teferi in third place. All three women finished at the same time at 33:55.[22][23] At the Diamond League Prefontaine Classic meet in Stanford, California on 30 June, she took third place in the 3000 m race with a time of 8:20.27, a new African outdoor best. The winner was Sifan Hassan in 8:18.49, a European record, and Konstanze Klosterhalfen was second in 8:20.07.[24][25] Seven of the top 15 runners ran personal bests.[26] On 17 July, Letesenbet won the 10,000 m Ethiopian trials on the track in Hengelo, Netherlands in a time of 30:37.89.[27]

At the Diamond League final in Brussels, Letesenbet finished second in the 5000 m with a time of 14:29.54. Hassan won the race in 14:26.26.[28][29]

Letesenbet Gidey (L) with her silver on the women's 10,000 m podium at the 2019 World Championships in Doha; Sifan Hassan (C), Agnes Tirop (R).

On 28 September, Letesenbet took the silver medal in the 10,000 m at the World Championships held in Doha, Qatar, with a personal best of 30:21.23. Hassan won the race in a time of 30:17.33, a new Dutch national record, with Agnes Tirop third in 30:25.50.[30]

World 15K run record

On 17 November 2019, Letesenbet set a new world record of 44m 20s in the 15 km road race at the Zevenheuvelenloop road race in Nijmegen, Netherlands, breaking the 2017 world record held by Joyciline Jepkosgei by one minute and 17 seconds, and becoming the first woman to run 15K under 45 minutes. Letesenbet ran the final 10K in 29:12, the fastest time ever recorded by a woman under any conditions (Almaz Ayana's track world record for 10,000 m was at the time at 29:17.45). Her average pace through 15K was 2:57 per kilometre.[31] She lowered by more than 2 minutes Tirunesh Dibaba's 2009 world record set also at the Zevenheuvelenloop in 46:28, which was, in turn, a 27-second improvement on the former mark at the time.[32][33] She received a prize of 50,000 euros for her world record.[34]


At the Monaco Diamond League meet on 14 August, Letesenbet was defeated in the 5000 m race by Hellen Obiri, who set a meeting record, 14:26.57 to 14:22.12.[35]

World 5000 m record

On 7 October 2020, at the NN Valencia World Record Day meet, the 22-year-old broke Tirunesh Dibaba's 2008 record in the 5000 m taking more than 4 seconds off to stop the clock at 14m 6.62s.[36]

2021: Tokyo Olympic 10,000 m bronze medallist

World 10,000 m record

On 6 June, Sifan Hassan set a 10,000 m world record of 29:06.82. Just two days later, on 8 June, Letesenbet broke Hassan's record at the Ethiopian trials on the same track by more than four seconds with a time of 29m 1.03s, running the last lap in one minute and three seconds. She was slightly behind the world record pace at the halfway point but began to accelerate after 7000 m. Her time for the second half of the race of 14:18 was the eighth-quickest women's 5000 m time ever run. She became the first woman to hold both the 5000 m and 10,000 m world records since Ingrid Kristiansen from 1986 to 1993.[37][38][39]

Racing in the event at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics in August, Letesenbet took the bronze medal, however. After the tactical race, she led on the final bend but was then outsprinted by both Hassan (29:55.32) and Bahrain's Kalkidan Gezahegne (29:56.18) to finish third in 30:01.72.[40]

World half marathon record

On 24 October 2021, on her half marathon debut, Letesenbet finished in 62m 52s at the Valencia Half Marathon, becoming the first woman to run under 64 minutes (legally) and under 63 minutes, and improving upon previous Ruth Chepng'etich's world record by 70 seconds (52 s upon an unratified mark of Yalemzerf Yehualaw). She reached 10K in 29:45 – the third-fastest clocking in history and just seven seconds off the world record for the distance, and her 15K time was only nine seconds slower than her own world best.[5][6] Letesenbet's 70-second improvement of the world record was the biggest drop in the women's half marathon since 1978.[41]

2022: World 10,000 m champion

Letesenbet (2nd from the left in green) en route to the 10,000 m title at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene.

Letesenbet claimed her first senior global title and her first global track title at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July. She held off a twin Kenyan challenge in a nail-biting finish (the top 3 were only separated by 0.13 s) to win the 10,000 metres gold, achieving a world-leading time of 30:09.94 ahead of Hellen Obiri in 30:10.02 and Margaret Kipkemboi in 30:10.07.[42] Seven days later, she also competed in the 5000 m event and finished fifth.[3]

On her highly anticipated marathon debut at the Valencia Marathon in December, the 24-year-old was initially executing her negative split tactic and gradually accelerated to put herself on world record (2:14:04) pace at 33 km, but eventually faded over the final 7 km quite a bit. She finished second behind Amane Beriso with a time of 2:16:49, setting, however, a record for the fastest ever at the time women's marathon debut and placing sixth on the world all-time list.[43][44]


Letesenbet started the year with a win at the Jan Meda Cross Country held in Sululta on 1 January, which doubled as Ethiopia's trial race for the February's World Cross Country Championships in Australia.[45] At the event, she led but faded in the home straight to be overtaken by Beatrice Chebet just metres before the finish line. Letesenbet then stumbled and collapsed, and was eventually disqualified after requiring assistance.[46] At the 2023 World Athletics Championships, Letesenbet won silver in the women's 10,000 metres.[47]


All information from World Athletics profile.[3]

Personal bests

Surface Event Time
Venue Date Notes
Track 1500 metres 4:11.11 Hérouville-Saint-Clair, France 15 June 2017
3000 metres 8:20.27 Stanford, CA, United States 30 June 2019
5000 metres 14:06.62 Valencia, Spain 7 October 2020 National Record
10,000 metres 29:01.03 Hengelo, Netherlands 8 June 2021 World record
Road 10K run 33:55 Bengaluru, India 19 May 2019
15K run 44:20 Nijmegen, Netherlands 17 November 2019 World best
Half marathon 1:02:52 Valencia, Spain 24 October 2021 Mx World record
Marathon 2:16:49 Valencia, Spain 4 December 2022 fastest women's debut, #6th of all time

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Result Notes
Representing  Ethiopia
2015 World Cross Country Championships Guiyang, China 1st Junior race 19:48
1st Junior team 11 pts
World Youth Championships Cali, Colombia 4th 3000 m 9:04.64 PB
2017 World Cross Country Championships Kampala, Uganda 1st Junior race 18:34
1st Junior team 19 pts
World Championships London, United Kingdom 11th 5000 m 15:04.99
2019 World Cross Country Championships Aarhus, Denmark 3rd Senior race 36:24
1st Senior team 21 pts
World Championships Doha, Qatar 2nd 10,000 m 30:21.23 PB
2021 Olympic Games Tokyo, Japan 3rd 10,000 m 30:01.72
2022 World Championships Eugene, OR, United States 5th 5000 m 14:47.98
1st 10,000 m 30:09.94 WL
2023 World Cross Country Championships Bathurst, Australia Senior race DQ
World Championships Budapest, Hungary 2nd 10,000 m 31:28.16 SB
Road races representing NN Running Team
2019 World 10K Bangalore Bangalore, India 2nd 10 km 33:55
Zevenheuvelenloop Nijmegen, Netherlands 1st 15 km 44:20 WB
2021 Valencia Half Marathon Valencia, Spain 1st Half marathon 1:02:52 WR
2022 Valencia Marathon Valencia, Spain 2nd Marathon 2:16:49 #6th of all time
2023 New York City Marathon New York City 2nd Marathon 2:27:29

National championships



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  47. ^ https://worldathletics.org/competitions/world-athletics-championships/budapest23/news/report/wch-budapest-23-report-women-10000m
Records Preceded byTirunesh Dibaba Women's 5000 m World Record Holder 7 October 2020 – present Succeeded byFaith Kipyegon Preceded bySifan Hassan Women's 10,000 m World record holder 8 June 2021 – present Succeeded byIncumbent Preceded byRuth Chepng'etich Women's Half marathon World record holder 24 October 2021 – present Succeeded byIncumbent