TOKYO: Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon retained the Olympic women’s 1,500m title today to put an end to Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan’s audacious bid for a unprecedented track treble in Tokyo.
Kipyegon broke the 33-year-old Olympic record set by Romanian Paula Ivan at the Seoul Games as she clocked 3:53.11s in hot, humid conditions at the Olympic Stadium.
Britain’s European champion Laura Muir produced a national record of 3:54.50s with a strong finish to claim silver, with Hassan taking bronze in 3:55.86s.
“I am so happy. It was something I didn’t really expect and I made it,” said Kipyegon.
“It was a really fast race, I knew it will be going until the last lap.
“To get the Olympic record is just amazing to me. I am so happy. I knew it would be a tough race being there with Sifan and Laura.
“Sifan is strong now and in good shape. I wanted to follow her and see what happened.”
The Ethiopian-born Hassan, who won gold in Monday’s 5,000m, had also targeted the 1,500m and 10,000m, scheduled to be run tomorrow.
It meant that Hassan, formerly coached by the disgraced Alberto Salazar, has barely been off the track since her arrival in the Japanese capital.
She arguably produced one of the most memorable moments in these Games when she recovered from a fall in the 1,500m heats in the morning session to get up and qualify before returning 12 hours later to win the 5,000m.
Hassan said she was “very happy” with her bronze-medal showing.
“I did my best and made it a fast race. I could not have done anything else. I have already run so many kilometres, so I am super happy.”
Sporting a black headband over black hair tied back in two tight plaits, world champion Hassan had it all to do in the 1,500m against the formidable Kipyegon, who was pushed into silver at the 2019 Doha worlds.
Canada’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford took up the running before Hassan moved slickly to the front with three laps to run.
Kipyegon stayed perched right on Hassan’s outside shoulder, the pair’s stride matching as they split the field.
Muir tucked in between the two leaders at the bell, Kipyegon making her move with 200m to go.
The Kenyan, 2017 world champion with a second silver from Beijing in 2015, produced a devastating turn of pace to glide past Hassan and into total control as they headed into the home stretch.
As Kipyegon accelerated past Hassan, Muir followed on her coattails to hold on for silver.
Hassan insisted that she would be donning the spikes one last time in Tokyo in tomorrow’s 10,000m despite her body feeling “very tired”.
“Faith was better than me. I needed this for (the 10,000m) tomorrow,” she said.
“I think to be number three is good actually, this is what I need for tomorrow. It makes me better. When I didn’t get what I want, I’ll do better until I get happy.
“Sometimes it’s a good challenge. I want to do three distances, so two are completed. I needed this (bronze), not gold, to make me do better tomorrow.”