The reigning Olympic track champion is using the race as part of her preparation for the London Games.

Tirunesh Dibaba, the reigning Olympic champion in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters who holds the outdoor world record at the shorter distance, has announced that she will run the Carlsbad 5000 on April 1 as part of her preparation for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

“This is a very important year for me as I prepare to defend my Olympic five and ten thousand meter titles,” said Dibaba, who has also won four world track titles and five world cross country championships. “I’m very excited to be returning to Carlsbad this year as I build up to London 2012, I have great memories from racing there.  It was one of my first races outside of Ethiopia back in 2002.”

Dibaba, who has three Carlsbad victories under her belt (2002, 2003 and 2005), ran 14:51 at “the world’s fastest 5K” in 2005 to tie the then world-record held by Paula Radcliffe.

“Carlsbad has had many great champions and I’m proud of my win there,” Dibaba said. “I’m so happy to return as an Olympic Champion and world record holder and I will try my best to win another title.”

Most recently, Dibaba won the 2-mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, running 9:21.6 to demolish the field by 30 seconds. It was the 26-year-old Dibaba’s first track race in 18 months, and a sure sign that she’s still a force to be reckoned with in this Olympic year.

“After a tough 2011 with injuries and setbacks, it’s been great to get back into racing,” Dibaba said. “I won a 10K road race in Madrid on New Year’s Eve and then indoors recently in Boston. It felt great to be back on the track again, and I’m happy the way things are going. It’s wonderful to be back racing, and Carlsbad is perfect for my next step back.”