Will Ethiopian-born Dutch distance star Sifan Hassan make history at Tokyo Olympics 2020?
Sifan Hassan is an Ethiopian-born Dutch female long-distance runner. Her plans to compete in 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m track races at the Tokyo Olympic Games have created buzz in the running world.
If she is successful in winning gold medals in all three races, it will be unprecedented in the history of Track and Field at the Olympics. No female distance runner has won more gold medals in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m track races at the same Olympic Games.
Athletes in the past have attempted the 5,000m and 10,000m double at the Olympics, but the 28-year-old has added a 1,500m event to her menu that is being intensely debated.
At the 2019 Doha World Championships, she made history by winning gold medals in the 1,500m and 10,000m, to become the first female runner to do so.
Why is it tougher to set records in the Olympics
There is a major difference in competing at the Olympics and posting a fast time during one-day international competitions.
During lucrative one-day prize money events across the globe, race organizers have pacemakers to break records. However, elite athletes employ different tactics to win medals at major championships including Olympics.
Therefore, timings are faster in one-day competitions rather than at the Olympics as the main aim is to win medals and not break records.
Since races at the Olympics are sometimes slow in comparison to one-day meetings, the tactical battle could be an advantage for Sifan as she has both the speed and endurance.
At the Tokyo Olympics, the women’s 5,000m preliminary round is scheduled for the evening session on July 30 while the women’s 1,500m heats are slated for a morning session on August 2.
There is enough time between the 5,000m and 1,500m heat for Sifan to recover.
But it could be punishing for the Dutch distance runner as the event progresses. After the 1,500m heat in the morning session, she will be racing the women's 5,000m final in the evening session on August 2.
Sifan's next race, the women’s 1,500m semis will be on August 4. The final is on August 6.
After a good race on August 6 will she recover to compete in the women’s 10,000m final on August 7?
Having shown her prowess over distances ranging from 1,500m to half marathon, Sifan would be one to watch at the Tokyo Olympics.
In the first week of June, Sifan smashed the women’s 10,000m five years old world record in Hengelo, the Netherlands. She clocked 29 minutes 06.82 seconds to better Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana’s record of 29 minutes 17.45 seconds set at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Last week (July 9) at the Monaco Diamond League, Sifan clocked 3 minutes 53.60 seconds to finish second behind arch rival Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, whose winning time was 3 minutes 51.07 seconds.
The inspiring story of Sifan Hassan
As a teenager, Sifan had to flee Ethiopia. She was barely 15 and reached the Netherlands as a refugee in 2008. She began running and enrolled herself in a nursing course. She gained Dutch citizenship in 2013.
According to Sifan, the nursing course took a backseat as she became a professional athlete. She will compete in Japan for her adopted country.
posted Friday July 16th
by N Singh