Sifan Hassan wins the 5,000 meters. Onto the next one.
TOKYO – One less gold medal. Two to go.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the women’s 5,000 meters on Monday, the first leg of her Olympic quest.
In Tokyo, Hassan tries to do something extraordinary and uniquely painful: win the 1,500, the 5,000 and the 10,000 meters. The 5,000 was her first chance at a medal, and she maneuvered carefully through the field before taking control with around 200 yards to go, sprinting to victory in 14 minutes 36.79 seconds.
Hellen Obiri of Kenya was second and Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia third.
While Hassan, 28, was due to compete in all three events, she only confirmed her intention to do so on Sunday.
In a statement, its management team called it a “campaign for Olympic glory” and “a huge achievement.” There is no doubt that winning three medals – gold medals if she is to dream big – would secure her a place among the long-distance runners in Olympic history. For her part, Hassan seemed cautious to avoid creating expectations, suggesting that she just wanted to give it a try.
“For me, it is crucial to follow my heart,” she said in the statement. “Doing this is much more important than gold medals. It allows me to stay motivated and enjoy this great sport. “
She doubled at the 2019 world championships, winning both the 1,500 and the 10,000.
Her victory in the 5000m marked the end of a long day, one of many she will have by the end of the Games.
She had flirted with disaster earlier on Monday, revealing the fragile nature of an attempt to win three medals – for anyone, perhaps, except Hassan.
In her opening round of the 1,500m, she was in a comfortable position just yards from the bell when Kenyan Edinah Jebitok fell directly in front of her. Hassan tried to jump on him, but tripped and crashed on the trail.
She got up as fast as she could and systematically chased the field with her long strides. Hassan made it easy. More impressive, she won the race after covering the last 300 meters in 43.7 seconds. (That’s a pace of less than 4 minutes.)
Hassan walked through the press area without answering questions as an official explained that she needed to rest and recover for the 5,000-meter final, which would take place in around 12 hours.
With a guaranteed gold medal, Hassan will now focus on his 1,500m semi-final on Wednesday. If she were to qualify, she would make the final on Friday. The 10,000-meter final will take place on Saturday.
In total, his feat would require 24,500 meters of racing in six races over nine days, for an approximate total of 15.2 miles. She could have saved herself the trouble and signed up for the marathon.
Earlier Monday evening, Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad raced in the rain to safely exit their women’s 400-meter hurdles semi-finals, setting the stage for a revival of their rivalry in Wednesday’s final. Muhammad is the reigning Olympic champion, but McLaughlin broke Muhammad’s world record at the US trials in June.
Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali kicked off a furious kick in the final lap to become the first non-Kenyan to win the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase since 1980. Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma was second and Benjamin Kigen of Kenya third.
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