REVVING UP TO A FULL SPRINT over the final 300m, Sifan Hassan sprinted away from Hellen Obiri to win her first Olympic title, and medal, in 14:36.74. Obiri claimed her second straight silver in 14:38.36, with Gudaf Tsegay taking the bronze in 14:38.91.
It is often a race within a race that adds extra drama to a competition, but in the case of the women’s 5000 it was a race 10 hours before the Monday evening final that brought the drama.
The 28-year-old Hassan’s unreal PR slate of 3:51.95/14:22.12/29:06.82 provided enough encouragement to add the 5000 to try to one-up her World Champs 15/10 double. The 6-race gambit began with a 60.2 speed test over the final lap to win her 5000 heat on Friday, and continued Monday morning with a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it closing rush to win her 1500 heat after falling hard to the track a few meters into the final lap.
While certainly not the easy morning effort she had expected 10 hours before the 5K final, it put a crimp in her body and plans and undoubtedly left her competitors grasping for tactics.
“After I fell down it cost me a lot of energy,” she admitted, “I was so tired, there was pain everywhere. Believe me, it was horrible, but sometimes I think bad things happen for good. When I fell down, I said to myself, ‘OK life doesn’t always go the way that you want.’”
Some 10 hours later, Hassan was back on the track as the 15-woman 5000 final began cautiously. While an early evening rain shower knocked a few degrees off the temperature, the stifling 75-degree dew point put a lid on the pace and the women circled the track at a 3:00 per kilometer clip. Obiri admitted “The race was slow, nobody wanted to go in front.”
Such it was with Japan’s Ririka Hironaka leading the first kilo in 3:00.67, and then Ethiopian Ejegayehu Taye in charge at the following three Ks, splitting 6:00.22, 8:59.81, 11:57.09. Eleven remained in contention a kilometer out but the U.S. duo of Karissa Schweizer and Elise Cranny had fallen 5 seconds off the pace (third American Rachel Schneider didn’t make it out of the heats).
Obiri knew it was time to move; fearing Hassan’s finishing gear she went to the front and lifted the pace to 68.1 over the penultimate lap, noting, “I know she is very strong so I was much worried about her. I knew she was going to destroy the field when it came to the final lap.”
The push left 5 together at the bell as Tsegay rushed up on the outside to join Obiri at the front. The Kenyan hit the turn hard and forged a stride lead when Hassan ditched her race-long middle of the pack position and blew down the backstretch catching Obiri halfway and winning a furious sprint to grab the pole position heading into the final 200.
Obiri and Tsegay sprinted hard and held their positions around the turn, and just as Obiri attempted to mount a challenge coming off the turn, Hassan took a quick look back and then lifted her long levers and sprinted away to a 12m win.
Obiri gave it her best sprint, finishing in 58.9 but admitting, “I know that Sifan is good over the final 400m and I tried to hold her, but there was nothing I could do.”
Hassan’s 57.1 circuit emphatically closed the first leg of her audacious triple — and an eventful day. “I can’t believe it, maybe tomorrow I will,” she said. “Everything was just drama. I think all the pressure and all the stress helped. I am so lucky and I told myself I had to do it.”
WOMEN’S 5000 RESULTS
(August 02) (temperature 82F/28C; humidity 83%; light rain)
1. Sifan Hassan (Neth) 14:36.79
(finish—14.0, 27.7, 57.1, 2:04.7) (halves—7:30.1/7:06.7);
2. Hellen Obiri (Ken) 14:38.36
(15.2, 29.1, 58.9, 2:07.0);
3. Gudaf Tsegay (Eth) 14:38.87
(14.9, 29.4, 59.4, 2:07.3);
4. Agnes Tirop (Ken) 14:39.62;
(15.0, 29.8, 60.0, 2:08.1)
5. Ejgayehu Taye (Eth) 14:41.24
(16.0, 31.2, 61.5, 2:09.7);
6. Senbere Teferi (Eth) 14:45.11;
7. Nadia Battocletti (Ita) 14:46.29 PR;
8. Yasemin Can (Tur) 14:46.49;
9. Ririka Hironaka (Jpn) 14:52.84 NR;
10. Selamawit Bayoulgn (Isr) 14:54.39;
11. Karissa Schweizer (US) 14:55.80;
12. Lilian Rengeruk (Ken) 14:55.85;
13. Elise Cranny (US) 14:55.98;
14. Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (Nor) 15:09.37;
15. Andrea Seccafien (Can) 15:12.09.
(kilo leaders: Hironaka 3:00.67; Taye 6:00.22, 8:59.81, 11:57.09, 11:57.09)
HEATS (July 30)
I–1. Hassan 14:47.89; 2. Tirop 14:48.01; 3. Teferi 14:48.31; 4. Taye 14:48.52; 5. Rengeruk 14:50.36; 6. Can 14:50.92; 7. Schweizer 14:51.34; 8. Bayoulgn 14:53.43 NR; 9. Hironaka 14:55.87 PR; 10. Seccafien 14:59.55; 11. Laura Galván (Mex) 15:00.16 NR (fastest-ever non-qualifier); 12. Kaede Hagitani (Jpn) 15:04.95 PR; 13. Jessica Judd (GB) 15:09.47; 14. Camille Buscomb (NZ) 15:24.39; 15. Prisca Chesang (Uga) 15:25.72; 16. Lucía Rodríguez (Spa) 15:26.19 PR; 17. Julie-Anne Staehli (Can) 15:33.39; 18. Rose Davies (Aus) 15:50.07; 19. Sarah Chelangat (Uga) 15:59.40.
II–1. Tsegay 14:55.74; 2. Obiri 14:55.77; 3. Battocletti 14:55.83 PR; 4. Cranny 14:56.14; 5. Grøvdal 14:56.82; 6. Nozomi Tanaka (Jpn) 14:59.93 PR (fastest-ever non-qualifier); 7. Rachel Schneider (US) 15:00.07; 8. Rahel Daniel (Eri) 15:02.59; 9. Amy-Eloise Markovc (GB) 15:03.22 PR; 10. Eilish McColgan (GB) 15:09.68; 11. Jenny Blundell (Aus) 15:11.27; 12. Esther Chebet (Uga) 15:11.47; 13. Dominique Scott Efurd (SA) 15:13.94; 14. Kate Van Buskirk (Can) 15:14.96; 15. Isobel Batt-Doyle (Aus) 15:21.65; 16. Diane van Es (Neth) 15:47.01; 17. Marthe Yankurije (Rwa) 15:55.94;… dnf—Klara Lukan (Slo);… dq—Francine Niyonsaba (Bur). ◻︎