Sifan Hassan Won Gold in the 10,000 Meters, Her Third Olympic Medal
TOKYO – After 24,500 meters of fierce racing in six races over nine days, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands found herself alone before tumbling down the track with disbelief etched on her face.
On Saturday, Hassan won the women’s 10,000-meter at the Tokyo Games to achieve an extraordinary feat, winning medals in three grueling events: the 1500, 5000 and 10,000 meters.
In his last event of the Olympics, Hassan edged out Kalkidan Gezahegne of Bahrain, who finished second, and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, who drifted in third place. Gidey holds the world record for the event, but even she was no match for Hassan, who finished in 29 minutes 55.32 seconds.
Hassan, 28, was around 24 hours away from the women’s 1,500-meter bronze medal on Friday night. She had tried to pick up the pace in this race before faltering late as Faith Kipyegon of Kenya defended her 2016 Olympics title. Afterwards, Hassan said she was happy.
“I did my best,” she said, “but I couldn’t do more than that. “
That she even tried to win a medal in three grueling events was a unique feat of endurance – something no athlete has accomplished. Consider, too, that she fell in her 1,500-meter semi-final on Monday – on the last lap, no less.
She bounced back and methodically passed the peloton to win. Later that day, she ran away from the peloton in the 5,000-meter race to win her first gold of the Games.
Friday, after her third place in the 1500m, Hassan admitted that she was “stressed every day”. And tired. So very tired. She was relieved, she said, that she only had one race to focus on. In a way, his mind was clean for the 10,000 meters. It was showing.
The race quickly turned into a battle of attrition in hot and humid conditions. Three runners retired before halfway through the race. With 13 laps to go, only seven riders out of a field of 29 remained in the leading peloton.
Then five. Then four. As the carnage unfolded, Hassan fell back behind Gidey and Hellen Obiri of Kenya, just ahead of Gezahegne in fourth position. Eventually, Obiri succumbed to the elements and the tempo, and also gave up on the back.
In the first corner of the last lap, Hassan climbed onto Gidey’s right shoulder and sprinted – straight into history.
Vashti Cunningham had a goal before the Tokyo Games.
At 23, she had won national championships and a world indoor title. An Olympic medal, preferably gold, was in sight for the athlete whose father and coach Randall Cunningham served as NFL quarterback for 16 seasons. Her mother, Felicity Cunningham, was a ballerina at the Dance Theater of Harlem.
But Cunningham could not exceed 1.96 meters, six centimeters below his personal best. She hit the bar on her last two-yard attempt and that’s it.
Cunningham couldn’t have done better than sixth.
The gold medal ended in a three-way battle between Nicola McDermott, an Australian who shouted at the top of her voice before making every attempt in the final rounds, Russian Mariya Lasitskene, a former world champion, and the Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the reigning world champion.
Lasitskene won with a jump of 2.04 meters, with McDermott in second and Mahuchikh in third.
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