It took a spirited final lap, but Tirunesh Dibaba was able to defend her crown in the women's 10,000-meter race on Friday.

The Ethiopian finished in 30 minutes, 20.75 seconds, but the final 400 meters were the difference, as she sprinted to glory. Her effort was not as good has her Olympic record of 29.54.66 at Beijing in 2008, but the superstar distance runner was ecstatic with the result.

"I have never been happier like today," said Dibaba. "It is very special. I have worked hard for this."

Dibaba, 26, joins her cousin Derartu Tulu as the only women to win the 10K race twice.  

It was a particularly impressive victory for Dibaba, as she was able to capture gold while the second and third-place finishers ran their personal best. Kenya's Sally Kipyego earned the silver with a time of 30:26.37 and compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot took the bronze by clocking in at 30:30.44.

The Kenya-Ethiopia rivalry was made very clear as Dibaba celebrated her victory with a lap around the track with fellow Ethiopians Weknesh Kidane and Beleynesh, who finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Dibaba has suffered numerous injuries which cast her furture in the London Games in doubt.

"I did not think I was going to make it to the Olympics," said Dibaba. "But I felt confident in training."