OG/Day Nine: Hassan And Ingebrigtsen Are Victorious

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David Hunter, in his article for day 9, writes about the 1,500m Men's and 10,000m Women's races, plus the relays on Day nine!

OG/Day Nine: Hassan And Ingebrigtsen Are Victorious

August 7th, 2021

On the final day of the competition inside the Olympic stadium, two marquee events were of special note.

The final of the women's 10,000 meters presented several pre-race questions. Sifan Hassan, in pursuit of an unprecedented triple, looked dominant in winning gold in the women's 5000. Yet days later the Dutch athlete looked vulnerable and frankly tired finishing third in the 1500 meter championship race. Which version of this incredible athlete would show up today?

The 10,000 were held under hot, muggy conditions and the weather was certainly a factor. 29 talented, fit athletes would start this 25 lap race, but only 24 exhausted warriors would finish as brutal, punishing weather prevailed.

At the opening gun, Japanese athlete Ririka Hironaka, who would ultimately finish 7th, jumped into the lead while Hassan, true to form, dropped all the way to the rear as often she does. At the first kilometer passed in 3:02, Letesenbet Gidey, the world record holder, had taken over the pacing chores while Hasan had moved up to 10th, the last runner in the lead pack. The American trio of Karissa Schweizer, Alicia Monson, and Emily Sisson was in the middle of the 9-athlete chase pack.

With the slowly-increasing pace progressively chipping down the kilo clockings, the leaders hit halfway in 15:08 despite the suffocating weather conditions. The four remaining athletes in the lead group looked like the quartet that would wrestle for the 3 medals. It was a curious group: Hassan, a versatile world-class athlete in all events from 1500m to 10,000m and the former world record holder at this distance; Gidey, who became the world record holder with a clocking of 29:01.03 just two days after Hassan's recording-setting race but who lacks a stinging finishing kick; Hellen Obiri, the reigning world champion at 5000 meters; and the relatively unknown Bahrain native Kalkidan Gezahegne.

Around 7 kilos, Obiri slipped off the lead pack. The kilometer clockings, now under 3:00, continued to reflect the quickened pace. Hassan, just biding her time, was closely packed behind the Ethiopian leader. Gidey, still pushing the pace, became annoyed as Hassan clipped the leader's heels on several occasions, evoking a finger-wagging reprimand from the frontrunner. Gidey, Hassan, and Gezahegne remained bunched at the bell as the real racing began to unfold. A signature move by Hassan with 300 meters remaining rocketed her into the lead as attempts to respond by Gidey was ineffectual. With Hassan in full flight over the final 100 meters, a disconsolate Gidey fell back quickly, allowing the Bahrainian to move into 2nd position.

Hassan hit the finish line in 29:55.32 for the victory. While not achieving the "treble", Hassan nonetheless completed an impressive individual medal haul: 2 golds and a bronze. No other athlete has ever won 3 medals in the 1500m, the 500m, and the 10,000m in the same Olympic gathering. Gezahegne, 2nd in 29:56,18, was ecstatic with her silver medal performance while Gidey, 3rd in 30:01.72, took the bronze. Obiri finished 4th with a personal best time of 30:24.72.

The Americans turned in mid-pack performances with Sisson [31:09.58] finishing 10th; Schweizer [31:19.96] crossing 12th, and Monson [31:21.36] right behind for 13th.

In the men's 1500 meter final, a handful of men had legitimate shots at a medal. With the reigning Olympic 1500 meter champion Matthew Centrowitz unable to advance beyond the semi-final round, names like Wightman, Hocker, Kerr, Cheruiyot, McSweyn, and Ingebrigtsen were being tossed around as possible podium performers. But would the final's pace be pedestrian as it was in Rio? An honest pace? Or would a bold finalist strike from the gun in an effort to test fitness and perhaps steal the race?

Immediately after the start, Jakob Ingebrigtsen charged into the lead. Right away, the field knew this was not the whimsical spurt of a precocious teenager. It was the beginning of a torrid chase for the medals. Shortly after the first 400 meters were passed in a serious 56.14, Kenya's Timothy Cheruiyot zipped past the Norwegian and into the lead - not to slow the pace, but to sustain it. Ingebrigtsen tucked in behind the Kenyan and was followed by Abel Kipsang and Scotland's Josh Kerr - a foursome that would clearly assure that this championship race would be a very quick one.

Beginning the final lap, the bell was rung at 2:33 with Cheruiyot in the lead and the Norwegian in close pursuit, followed by Kipsang and Kerr. Inside 150 meters remaining and just before the home stretch, Ingebrigtsen - full of run - made a strong decisive move to pass Cheruiyot, unable to match the 20-year old's closing move. On a day when youth was served, the youngster hit the line first in 3:28.32, the first time he ever defeated Cheruiyot. His winning time is a personal best, a new Olympic record, and makes him the #8 performer on the all-time world list. Cheruiyot would capture silver in 3:29.01 while fast-finishing Kerr earned the bronze, crossing in a personal best 3:29.05. Kipsang finished 4th in 3:29.56, a personal best. Cole Hocker, the sole American in metric mile final, clocked a personal best in 3:31.40 to finish 6th.

In speaking with the press, the silver medalist shared his thoughts. "My focus today was to run under 3:30 because I was in good form. I was expecting to run under 3:30," confided Cheruiyot. "Today, my performance was good, well-controlled. We ran good times in the Olympics. And I'm happy about the results of the day," said the Kenyan who also addressed his difficulties in the homestretch. "In the last 100 meters, I was feeling tired. I was feeling my right hamstring so I didn't manage to run to the finish line fast."

/ Dave Hunter /

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Women's 4x400 meter relay: USA women chalked up an impressive win. The powerful quartet of Sydney McLaughlin, Allyson Felix, Dalilah Muhammed, and Athing Mu on the anchor captured the gold. Their winning time of 3:16.85 is the season's best and ranks #4 on the all-time world list.

Men's 4x400 meter relay: Like the women, the USA men also were victorious in their 4x400 meter final. The foursome of Michael Cherry, Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon, and Rai Benjamin dominated the final to win the gold medals. Their winning time of 2:55.70 just missed the Olympic record and now ranks as the #4 performance on the all-time world list. The USA men have the top 9 all-time performances in this event.

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