The joy in the mixed zone told it all.
Her face was glowing, beaming smile and joy written all over her face and at the medal ceremony, shook with emotion as the national anthem reverberated around the stadium.
After spending the last five years in the shadow of countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba and Vivian Cheruiyot, Meseret Defar reclaimed her title as the queen of 5000metres by claiming gold to add onto the one she won back in 2004.
It has been a tough few years for the lady they call Messi in Addis. After winning gold in Athens, and a world title in Osaka, she was jolted as Tirunesh Dibaba dropped down the distance to clinch gold in Beijing.
Then Cheruiyot whom she had beaten easily for so long turned tables in Berlin and again in Daegu.
All over sudden, she was the bridesmaid. At the World Indoors this year came the final nail on the coffin or so it seemed as she trailed Hellen Obiri in the 3000 metres final.
But at the Olympic stadium, she rose again. She needed some help from arch adversary. Reports of a feud between her and Dibaba are legendary going back to a Golden League meet years ago but Friday, Dibaba did the donkey work.
The pace was pedestrian to be honest with no one brave enough to take the race by the scruff of the neck but in the last few laps, Dibaba upped the tempo controlling and setting it up for her compatriot to close the tape first ahead of Cheruiyot who won silver while she settled for bronze.
It was a sacrifice by Dibaba and Defar was quick to point it out, “early today, we spoke and agreed that we will all work for the gold to come to Ethiopia. We are happy and there is no problem between me and Tirunesh. We are happy.”
While Defar certainly came to the party, there was a feeling that Cheruiyot had lost the race tactically. Easily the best athlete in the distance over the last three years, she was widely tipped to win it here.
But having been soundly beaten by Dibaba in the 10,000metres final a week ago, she was a bit tentative and changed her tact.
Normally she hits the front with two laps remaining and steadily ups the tempo before coming home strongly. This time, she stuck behind the Ethiopian duo and kept glancing at Dibaba
But there was one flow to her plan. The gradual winding up of the race helps remove the sting from Defar’s kick making it easier for Cheruiyot to fend her off, but with the pace pedestrian, the Ethiopian still had enough to kick away and try as she might, the Kenyan could not get her.
“I am disappointed because always beat Defar but tonight I made a mistake with 200metres to go. I was watching both but I thought Dibaba would be the main threat.”
The superior race planning of the Ethiopians had won again.
In some way, order has been restored. After a frankly abysmal performance at the World championships in Daegu last year, the Ethiopian empire has truck back at the Olympics.
Three gold medals means that they are on course to being the best African country at the championships as the men’s 5000 metre and marathon races are yet to be held.
It represents a huge turnaround after Daegu where Ethiopia struggled winning just the one god medal. The women have been at the heart of it all with Tirunesh, Tiki Gelana and Defar restoring the pride of Abyssinia.