Olympic Women’s 10,000 — Final Score: 2 Golds, 1 Bronze

Sifan Hassan sprinted away from Kalkidan Gezahegne and into the history books as her 10K win added to her 5000 title and 3rd in the 1500. (ANDREW McCLANAHAN/PHOTO RUN)

SPRINTING AWAY IN THE FINAL 100 METERS, Sifan Hassan closed out her 3-event, 6-race triple-medal quest by stopping the clock in 29:55.32 and adding gold in the 10,000 to her 5000 gold and 1500 bronze.

Unheralded Kalkidan Gezahegne of Bahrain, just No. 10 on our formchart, took the silver in 29:56.18, while WR holder Letesenbet Gidey — who had led the last 18 laps of the race — had to settle for bronze at 30:01.72.

Happy at having completed her quest, Hassan let the emotions flow. “I am so happy and I cried during the medal ceremony,” she admitted. “I actually realized that I am done, the Games are over. I wanted to come for three distances and I finished.”

This had been a much-anticipated final day of track competition since June when Hassan and then Gidey set back-to-back WRs just 2 days apart on the same track in Hengelo.

Gidey was fresh to the Tokyo oval, however, while Hassan certainly wasn’t.

After completing 5 races over an 8-day span, and taking the track 22 hours after her 3:55.86 bronze, Hassan was content to follow until the final straightaway. After 3K of more of comfortable running, Hassan was put to task by Gidey’s relentless mid-race challenge to run away from her feared finishing kick. It didn’t work out and the only surprise in the race was that Gezahegne was also able to stick with the WR duo.

Japan’s Ririka Hironaka played host early, leading the 29 competitors through 3:02.93 and 6:04.36 kilometers, but when the pace dwindled on a 75-second sixth lap, Gidey went right to the front, passing 3K in 9:10.46 and pushed the pace under a 3:00/kilo clip.

A string of 72- and then 71-second circuits strung out the field through a 2:59.87 kilo No. 4, and 71-second circuits netted a 2:57.90 fifth K as Gidey passed halfway in 15:08.23, and the lead pack was down to 7.

Gidey’s eyes were focused straight ahead, turning over an ever-efficient stride as her 2:56.04 sixth kilometer had quickly pared it back to a 4-woman race with only Hellen Obiri, Hassan and Gezahegne able to keep pace.

Pressing deeper into the race, the 30-year-old Gezahegne clung to the backs of her more accomplished competitors running in the second chapter of a long career as she first hit the radar way back in ’10 with a stunning World Indoor 1500 win as a teenager.

After several off-years, the Ethiopian born Gezahegne returned to form and representing Bahrain triumphed in a 15/5 double at the ’18 Asian Games. Last May, she moved up in distance and ran a NR 29:50.77.

Here she maintained a low profile until just after halfway when she was able to match strides with the favorites.

This quartet carried on in lockstep as Gidey tapped out ever-steady 70–71 circuits as if guided by lights. The high pace continued through a 2:57.01 seventh kilo that dropped Obiri. Gidey dipped under 70 for a lap en route to 2:55.21 kilo No. 8 — and then unexpectedly pulled the plug.

Despite hammering out a 14:46.03 5K between 3 and 8K, Gidey had not been able to shake Hassan and Gezahegne. Be it fatigue or resignation to Hassan’s fearsome kick, Gidey eased back to a 72.4 followed by 75.0, 75.7 and a 74.1 penultimate go-round.

Even after 4 laps at recovery pace the last one was not a burner as Gidey maintained her lead through a 32.1 opening 200, and still led coming off the turn before she was caught in a pinch of lapped runners, and Hassan unleashed her sprint.

Hassan secured her second gold with a 13.5 blast over the final 100, with Gezahegne just a few strides back off a 14.2 and Gidey fading markedly at 19.2.

While fatigued from her previous races, Hassan admitted, “I had total confidence. Actually, in the 10,000m, especially in championships for me, the first 3 kilometers are boring because it’s slow, but today I felt like sprinting from the beginning. That’s why I didn’t even go in the last 300m, I just went in the last 100m.”

The American contingent fell off the pace after 4K and maintained their positions in the middle of the pack with Emily Sisson 10th (31:09.58), Karissa Schweizer 12th (31:19.96) and Alicia Monson 13th (31:21.36).


WOMEN’S 10,000 RESULTS

(August 07) (temperature 82F/28C; humidity 81%)

1. Sifan Hassan (Neth) 29:55.32

(finish—13.6, 29.5, 61.5, 2:15.6, 4:46.3)

(15:08.8/14:46.6);

2. Kalkidan Gezahegne (Bhr) 29:56.18

(14.2, 30.1, 62.1, 2:16.2, 4:46.9)

(15:09.0/14:47.2);

3. Letesenbet Gidey (Eth) 30:01.72

(19.2, 36.0, 68.1, 2:22.2, 4:52.9)

(15:08.3/14:53.5);

4. Hellen Obiri (Ken) 30:24.27 PR

(17.9, 36.4, 74.1, 2:30.9, 5:01.5)

(15:08.6/15:15.7);

5. Francine Niyonsaba (Bur) 30:41.93 NR

(16.0, 32.6, 67.7, 2:22.6, 4:53.2)

(15:10.2/15:31.8);

6. Irene Cheptai (Ken) 30:44.00 PR

(17.3, 34.4, 69.4, 2:24.9, 4:59.0)

(15:09.2/15:34.8);

7. Ririka Hironaka (Jpn) 31:00.71 PR

(16.1, 32.5, 66.5, 2:21.0, 4:54.5)

(15:15.5/15:45.3);

8. Konstanze Klosterhalfen (Ger) 31:01.97

(17.1, 33.9, 69.6, 2:24.3, 4:56.5)

(15:19.5/15:42.5);

9. Eilish McColgan (GB) 31:04.46; 10. Emily Sisson (US) 31:09.58; 11. Yasemin Can (Tur) 31:10.05; 12. Karissa Schweizer (US) 31:19.96; 13. Alicia Monson (US) 31:21.36; 14. Andrea Seccafien (Can) 31:36.36; 15. Dolshi Tesfu (Eri) 31:37.98; 16. Sheila Chelangat (Ken) 31:48.23; 17. Jessica Judd (GB) 31:56.80; 18. Meraf Bahta (Swe) 32:10.49; 19. Camille Buscomb (NZ) 32:10.49;

20. Dominique Scott Efurd (SA) 32:14.05; 21. Hitomi Niiya (Jpn) 32:23.87; 22. Yuka Ando (Jpn) 32:40.77; 23. Selamawit Bayoulgn (Isr) 32:46.46; 24. Mercyline Chelangat (Uga) 33:10.90;

… dnf—Sarah Lahti (Swe), Susan Krumins (Neth), Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (Nor), Tsige Gebreselama (Eth); … dq—Tsehay Gemechu (Eth);

(leader kilos: Hironaka 3:03.0, 6:04.4; Gidey 9:10.5, 12:10.4, 15:08.3, 18:04.3, 21:01.3, 23:56.5, 27:02.0)

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