Many Olympic fans just learned about Sifan Hassan because of her fall and subsequent win in the 1,500m heat two days ago. That night, Sifan won the 5000m final, just twelve hours after the fall. Somewhere she noted, that after the fall, the adrenaline kicked in and “it was like 20 cups of coffee.”
Matt Wisner did this piece for @RunBlogRun. Matt is part of a program at the University of Oregon developed by Professor Lori Shontz to provide opportunities for young sports journalist to write.
We enjoyed Matt’s work in Oregon during the 2021 Trials, and we are sure you will enjoy this piece on Sifan Hassan.
Sifan Hassan Wins Olympic Gold in 5,000 Just 12 Hours After Falling in 1500 Heat
By Matt Wisner
Sifan Hassan will attempt something that has never been done before: triple gold in the Olympic distance events. She’s on a quest to win the 1500, 5,000 and 10,000 in Tokyo.
Earlier today in the 5,000, Hassan pulled away from Kenya’s Hellen Obiri on the backstretch of the bell lap. The 28-year-old Dutch athlete covered the final 400 meters in 57 seconds to run a time of 14:36.79, which was enough to secure her first gold medal of the meet.
For reference, the top American finisher, Karissa Schweizer, reported that her fastest ever 400 is 57 seconds. Hassan did it at the end of an honest-paced 5,000.
Despite winning the world championships twice and holding the 10,000 world record for some time, this is Hassan’s first Olympic gold.
“I am an Olympic champion. How did that happen?” Hassan said to the media.
Just 12 hours earlier, Hassan dramatically fell in the first round of the 1500, an event that will require her to perform well in three rounds to achieve her goal.
Knowing that she will have to run six total races, Hassan has been hovering at the back of the pack during her preliminary rounds. The idea is that she’s relaxed, biding her time—not wasting energy jockeying for position and not pushing the pace from the front.
The risk of that strategy is that somebody else could fall and become an unexpected obstacle. That’s exactly what happened in the 1500.
But Hassan did not panic. She quickly got up and threw down a 43.7 second final 300 meters to win her preliminary heat.
LetsRun journalist Jonathan Gault said it best in a tweet: “Falling on the last lap of a 1500 is only a problem if your name isn’t Sifan Hassan.”
Hassan’s range makes her uniquely capable of pulling off the historic triple. She’s the only person to have ever run under 2:00 in the 800 (1:56.81) and under 30 minutes in the 10,000 (29:06.82).
At the world championships in Doha in 2019, Hassan won the 1500 and 10,000, becoming the first woman to ever achieve such a double.
Hassan is very recognizable on the track. She’s often the only Dutch athlete in the field and wears a bright orange uniform top. Most women wear the small, “buns” (also known as “bunhuggers” or “runderwear” if you’re feeling spicy), but Hassan wears long blue spandex bottoms. She also routinely wears a thick black headband on the top of her forehead.
Hassan has an aggressive arm swing, her elbows flailing out to the side with every step. Her form isn’t perfect, and that may make her even more impressive and fun to watch.
Hassan will compete in the semifinal of the 1500 at 6 a.m. EST tomorrow, Aug. 4. The final-only 10,000 will happen at 6:45 a.m. EST on Saturday, Aug. 7.