Sifan Hassan has officially announced that she will be attempting the most ambitious triple ever seen in the history of women’s distance running at an Olympic Games. The Dutch phenom will be challenging for a medal in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m in Tokyo this week, requiring her to run six races over eight days.
Sifan Hassan's agency says she's going for the 1500m-5000m-10,000m triple at the Tokyo Olympics. pic.twitter.com/UBCBbA9XoU
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) August 1, 2021
This isn’t Hassan’s first foray into unprecedented multi-event wins. In 2019, she claimed the 1,500m/10,000m double at the World Championships in Doha, despite her coach, Alberto Salazar, being banned just as the competition was starting. She has already qualified through to the final in the 5,000m, which will take place on Monday evening (Monday morning in Canada), after running the 1,500m preliminaries that morning. Her demanding schedule is as follows (all times are Tokyo time):
July 30: 5,000m heats, 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 2: 1,500m heats, 9:35 a.m.; 5,000m final, 9:40 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 4: 1,500m semis, 7 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 6: 1.500m semis, 9:50 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 7: 10,000m final, 7:45 p.m.
Hassan has never won an Olympic medal, but is a favourite in both the 5,000m and 10,000m. Attempting this triple could reduce her chances for a gold medal in either event, but there is still a strong possibility that she lands on the podium. In a press release, the Dutch runner said medals are less important to her than “following her heart”.
“Doing that is far more important than gold medals. That keeps me motivated and it keeps me enjoying this beautiful sport,” she explained.
If, however, she does manage to take home a gold medal in all three events, it will go down as the most successful Olympics by any female distance runner in history. No female athlete has ever won three individual gold medals in track at an Olympics, though Emil Zatopek won gold in the 5,000m, the 10,000m and the marathon in Helsinki in 1952. It won’t be an easy feat, and she will have to contend Gudaf Tsegay in the 5,000m and Faith Kipyegon in the 1,500m. She will also have to take on Letesenbet Gidey in the 10,000m, who broke Hassan’s record in the event only two days after she set it.
To watch Hassan continue her historic attempt, you can catch her next on the track Sunday night at 8:47 p.m. ET in the first round of the 1,500m.