Winning gold at the Olympics became the overriding goal for Dibaba, who underlined her dominance by winning the 5,000/10,000 double at the 2005 world championships and becoming the first woman to defend a 10,000m world title in Osaka two years later.
Going into Beijing, she was further inspired by Sileshi Sihine, whom she was to marry after the Games.
Sihine was twice a silver medal winner in the 10,000m, at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and wanted his fiancee to go one better.
"My husband Sileshi used to tell me that in order to become a great runner, you have to win the Olympic gold," she said.
"When I said that I was tired and won't go to training, he would say work hard just for this one.
"I did not believe then that I won my first Olympic gold (in the 10,000m). It was a hard race, a tough race, I broke the Olympic record, I broke the African record. I was very happy. "
Going into the 5,000m as the world record-holder, Dibaba sprinted to a golden Beijing double, while Defar was third.
With her main goal achieved, Dibaba concentrated on her wedding that November, when celebrations lasted over a week as the couple was feted in Ethiopia.
She took a four-month break from intensive training and suffered as a consequence, sustaining injuries which she believed threatened her career.
"I never thought I would return back to running again. I thought I had would never return to competition. I was under treatment, I spent a lot of time going back and forth to Germany for treatment," Dibaba said.
She was seeing renowned specialist Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt, who had to keep assuring Dibaba she would recover.
"He told me that I would return, but I still did not believe I would return back to running. It was really hard for me," she said.
The doctor's confidence was well placed, but it took until 2012 for Dibaba to rediscover her best form, just in time for the London Games.
A blistering command performance in the 10,000 saw her claim her third Olympic gold, but her double attempt was thwarted in the 5,000 by Defar and Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya as she was relegated to the bronze medal position.
Dibaba shows no sign of winding down her career, but she is involved in several commercial projects, which include building a hotel.
Having earned her own wealth, she takes pride in providing employment in a developing country such as Ethiopia.
"We create jobs for those who don't have any. We create opportunities," she said.
The next goal
Dibaba has never forgotten the help of her family and the sacrifices she has had to make to achieve her success.
"I remember there were days where I felt could not complete my training program. But because I had to finish it, because my coach (Hussein Shebo) would advise me that it's a must to complete the program, I would finish the program," she said.
"There were times I got so tired that I would go to bed without eating food, only drinking water. To run well and be a good sportsperson, you have to work hard."
Rising around 6 a.m., she will do two sessions per day, preparing for the track season with intensive speed sessions as part of a specially devised schedule.
Dibaba is usually in bed by 9 p.m. and restricts herself to a mostly pasta and rice diet.