TOKYO: World champion Sifan Hassan capped her audacious bid for an Olympic treble with a stunning victory in the women’s 10,000m today for her second gold, and third medal, of the Tokyo Games.
The Ethiopian-born Dutch runner kicked off her non-stop week of track action with victory in the 5,000m on Monday.
There followed a bronze in yesterday’s 1,500m, before she dusted down her spikes just 24 hours later for a tilt at the longest of her chosen disciplines in the same testing hot and humid conditions that have beset the Olympics.
With heats and semifinals as well, it meant Hassan was in action on five days of the nine-day schedule of track and field, including competing in a 1,500m heat on the same day as the 5,000m final.
In the 10,000m Hassan clocked 29:55.32s for gold, with Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne, also born in Ethiopia, claiming silver in 29:56.18s.
Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey, after leading for all but two kilometres of the 25-lap race, claimed bronze in 30:01.72s.
Gidey was comfortable in second behind early pace setter Ririka Hironaka of Japan, with Hassan close behind.
The Ethiopian world record holder over both 5,000 and 10,000m potentially lost an ally as teammate Tsigie Gebreseslama pulled up injured after just two laps.
But that proved to be false as, with 18 laps to run, Gidey moved to the front, followed by the phalanx of Kenyans as the lead pack was cut to 12.
Four laps further on and Gidey upped the pace and soon only Kenya’s 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri and Irine Cheptai, Hassan and Gezahegne could cope with the Ethiopian’s unrelenting rhythm.
Moving into the final 10 laps, Cheptai had been dropped, leaving a clear four-way battle.
Obiri started to struggle and then it was down to three, Gidey looking powerful and in complete control, eyes occasionally flicking up to the stadium’s big screen.
At the bell that signalled the last lap, Gidey kicked, Hassan and Gezahegne quickly bunching in readiness for a counter-attack.
Shoulder to shoulder, Hassan swept past Gidey at the 150m mark.
Unlike the 1,500m, when she was left flat-footed in the home stretch, Hassan ensured she made no mistake, producing a dazzling sprint away from the Bahraini, arms raised in glory as she crossed the line to claim her second gold of a remarkable Games.
Obiri finished fourth, with Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, who won Olympic 800m silver in Rio, in fifth.
Niyonsaba, also a two-time world indoor 800m champion, had changed events after falling foul of World Athletics’ rules regarding women born with elevated testosterone, meaning she was barred from events from 400m to the mile.