Sifan Hassan eyes unprecedented Olympic track treble
Sifan Hassan may have raised eyebrows when she announced an unprecedented bid for triple Olympic gold in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m, but on previous form she looks tailor-made to make history in Tokyo.
The 28-year-old, born in Ethiopia but now a long-time naturalised Dutchwoman, became the first athlete to achieve the 1500 and 10,000m world double in Doha in 2019.
It was a remarkable show of running, especially as it came after the news that her coach Alberto Salazar, the head of the Nike-funded Oregon Project, had been banned for four years over doping-related issues.
"The hardest moment and pressure in my life was in Doha and I handled it," she said earlier this month.
"Tokyo will not be hard."
Hassan certainly did handle it, meeting the furore head-on after she had completed the double.
"If they want to test me they can test me every single day. Every single day," she said.
"I believe in clean sport, I'm always clean, I will always be clean.
"I believe in the Oregon Project (since disbanded by Nike). I've seen Alberto. He's worked really hard and that is what I know."
Hassan failed to bow down to more potential criticism from detractors when she selected former Salazar assistant Tim Rowberry as her new coach.
"Three years ago I made the choice to go to America," she said in 2020 after choosing Rowberry.
"I now have a familiar situation where I feel very much at home.
"I have considered several options and met new people to find the right click, but I believe that my current training situation is the best way to successfully prepare for the Tokyo Olympics."
'I am crazy'
Hassan's treble bid echoes that of the 'Czech Locomotive', Emile Zatopek, who won 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon golds at the 1952 Olympics.
For Hassan it may be more of a challenge in terms of the scheduling with the toughest day on August 2.
She runs the 1500m heats in the morning and then, provided there has not been an upset in qualifying, the 5,000m final in the evening session.
She would then need to come through the 1500m semi-finals on August 4 with the final two days later.
If it is two from two after that, a sleepless night might beckon ahead of a history-making attempt at the third, the 10,000m final, on August 7.
posted Thursday July 22nd