Sifan Hassan, Wonderwoman


Hassan 2.jpgSifan Hassan, photo by Dan Vernon / NN Running team

Finally, an Olympic champion who is addicted to coffee! Sifan Hassan became more human when she spoke of her love of coffee. But, it was a bit more than that, that allowed her to run 43.7 for the last 300m, after she fell in the 1,500m. Sifan won her 1,500m heat and the 5,000m final within 10 hours.

Sifan Hassan, Wonderwoman

There is a story about Eric Liddell, a 1924 Olympic gold medallist in the 400m, who is featured in the film Chariots of Fire, running a 400 meters race, being tripped and falling. He then got up and ran, caught up with the other runners, and won the race. It was in the 1920s with no film to authenticate the incident.

I saw it happen in Tokyo this week with Sifan Hassan running at the back of a heat of the women's 1500. Edina Jebitok of Kenya went down and Hassan fell over her just into the final lap. Hassan must have been 20 meters behind the pack but she took off and reeled them in, winning in 4:05.17. She was quoted on the incident: "I was shocked but I immediately decided that I could not stop".

Hassan 4.jpgSifan Hassan, photo by Dan Vernon / NN Running team

Hassan who is the reigning world champion at 1500 and 10,000 and who set a 10,000m world record earlier this year, is going for a treble in Tokyo.

She won the 5,000m, is in the semi-finals of the 1500m with the 10,000m still to come. In the 5,000 final she took the lead on the final lap and held off Kenya's Hellen Obiri to win in 14:36.79.

She said of her busy day with the 1500 race around 10.00am and the 5,000 just before 10.00pm: "I can't believe it. I used all my energy this morning and I was kind of tired. I couldn't believe what happened. It was terrible when I tripped. I felt terrible afterward and I never thought I am going to be the Olympic champion. It has been an amazing day. When I fell down and had to jump up I felt like I was using so much energy. I couldn't believe the feelings in my legs. All the energy seemed to leave me. I was so scared I wasn't going to do it.

"Before 5,000 I didn't even care. I was so tired. Without coffee I would never be Olympic champion. I needed all the caffeine".

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