World Champs Women’s 1500 — Hassan Finishes Double In Awesome Fashion

Sifan Hassan led an ultra-quick parade of follow-the-leader in the fastest mass finish in 1500 history. (JIRO MOCHIZUKI/PHOTO RUN)

COMING BACK from a stunning victory in the 10,000 a week earlier, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands lined up for the 1500 as an overwhelming favorite. Running amidst a firestorm of controversy about coach Alberto Salazar (see Last Lap) Hassan channeled her anger into her running, and authored the deepest 1500 of all time. Whether it was her mile WR back in July or the 3:59.09 for 1500 at the end of her 10,000 here, her opponents stepped on the track knowing that their dreams of gold would likely remain in dreamland.

Hassan sailed through the heats with a 4:03.88, the fastest time. In the next day’s semi, she relaxed, needing only a 4:14.69 (57.37 final lap). The other semi was controlled by Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who paced the fastest non-final in meet history, one that Jenny Simpson won in 4:00.99.

For the final, 2 days later, there was no warning that it would be anything other than a sit-and-kick championship affair. Canadian recordholder Gabriela DeBues-Stafford led the pack through a first 200 in 32.12, with Hassan far back, as usual. That’s when the former Ethiopian refugee abruptly broke character, charging to the lead before the 300 and setting out on a devastating pace.

She passed the 400 in 63.53. Her next circuit took just 62.42 (2:05.95). Behind her, athletes who had been focused completely on being in the right position for the kick had to suddenly recalculate their journeys. Tsegay and Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon didn’t hesitate to follow the torrid clip immediately, but it wasn’t till after the 800 that Laura Muir, hanging at the back of the pack, finally panicked at the realization that Hassan wasn’t ever going to come back. Muir started moving, followed by Shelby Houlihan.

The flying Dutchwoman continued to scorch the track. A 31.31 furlong brought her to 1000m in a world-leading 2:37.26. The others, though strung out, were holding onto the suicidal pace as if their lives depended on it—at that point 7 were under 2:38.

That was when Hassan crushed every last dream of theirs by speeding up yet again. Her next 200 (30.15) brought her to 1200 in 3:07.41. Muir had fought her way to second, ahead of Tsegay and Kipyegon. Winny Chebet and Houlihan came next. A 28.86 brought Hassan to the final straight, where she burned all her remaining fuel, thinking she might have a shot at the World Record. However even she finally started to struggle; her last 100 (15.68) was one of her slowest. Behind her, Kipyegon caught Muir with a half-lap left. Tsegay waited till the straight before passing the struggling Briton. Houlihan moved out wide to launch her kick, but found little left. She scraped her way past Muir into 4th but could not catch anyone else.

Hassan crossed the line at 3:51.95, becoming the No. 2 woman ever, trailing only Genzebe Dibaba’s 3:50.07 from ’15. Her closing splits: 30.20, 44.54, 59.34, 2:01.80. It was a meet record by more than 6 seconds. What happened behind Hassan was just as historic. Kipyegon took silver in a Kenyan Record 3:54.22. Tsegay earned bronze with her 3:54.38, becoming No. 7 ever. Houlihan in 4th smashed the American Record with her 3:54.99. Muir in 5th produced her second-fastest run ever, 3:55.76. DeBues-Stafford set another Canadian Record, 3:56.12. Despite a seasonal best 3:58.42, her fifth-fastest time ever, Simpson could only manage 8th. Best-ever-marks-for-place were set for places 2-11. In 12th came the third American, Nikki Hiltz, at 4:06.68. (Continued below)

Houlihan had been formcharted for a medal, but had to be happy knocking a big chunk off Shannon Rowbury’s AR of 3:56.29. “I went into this World Championship being the fittest I’ve ever been and feeling the most prepared and confident in myself than I ever have in a Championship race,” she wrote on Instagram. “I put myself in it, ran a big PR and broke the American Record… Although I’m happy with my performance, I’m still left wanting more. I trust that if I keep showing up, my day will come.”

It had been the deepest 1500 ever run. Almost immediately the questions began flying again, with even some of the athletes claiming that the victor was tainted by her choice of a coach. It remains to be seen whether any of the finishers will say the same of their own performances—times that many of them will never run again—which would not have been possible but for the frontrunning of Hassan.

“I’m showing what you can do with hard work,” said the 26-year-old Hassan after completing a unique double. “It was amazing when I crossed the line and I saw that time. I was so happy. It was a hard win for me. I was just so angry with what people were saying. I’ve worked so hard to be on top over the years.”


WC WOMEN’S 1500 RESULTS

FINAL

(October 05) (temperature 81F/27C; humidity 71%)

1. Sifan Hassan (Neth) 3:51.95 NR (WL) (2, 2 W)

(pace—16.30, 16.53 [32.93], 15.27 [48.20], 15.33 [63.53], 15.36 [1:18.89], 15.56 [1:34.45], 15.70 [1:50.15], 15.80 [2:05.95], 15.63 [2:21.58], 15.68 [2:37.26], 15.35 [2:52.61], 14.80 [3:07.41], 14.34 [3:21.75], 14.52 [3:36.27], 15.68)

(63.53, 62.42 [2:05.95], 61.46 [3:07.41], 44.54)

(finish—15.68, 30.20, 59.34, 2:01.80);

2. Faith Kipyegon (Ken) 3:54.22 NR (5, 6 W)

(16.35, 31.54, 61.27);

3. Gudaf Tsegay (Eth) 3:54.38 PR (7, 8 W)

(16.35, 31.54, 61.27);

4. Shelby Houlihan (US) 3:54.99 AR (old AR 3:56.29 Shannon Rowbury [Nik] ’15) (8, 9 W)

(16.07, 31.59, 61.82);

5. Laura Muir (GB) 3:55.76

(17.09, 32.92, 63.01);

6. Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (Can) 3:56.12 NR

(17.00, 32.65, 62.76);

7. Winny Chebet (Ken) 3:58.20 PR

(17.74, 34.42, 65.05);

8. Jenny Simpson (US) 3:58.42

(16.29, 32.65, 64.38);

9. Rabab Arrafi (Mor) 3:59.93

(17.30, 34.02, 66.16);

10. Ciara Mageean (Ire) 4:00.15 PR

(16.52, 32.56, 64.95);

11. Winnie Nanyondo (Uga) 4:00.63

(17.44, 33.78, 65.92);

12. Nikki Hiltz (US) 4:06.68

(16.65, 33.93, 69.05).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 2-11)

HEATS

(October 02)

I–1. Hassan 4:03.88; 2. Kipyegon 4:03.93; 3. Hiltz 4:04.00; 4. Nanyondo 4:04.04; 5. Mageean 4:04.18; 6. Sarah McDonald (GB) 4:04.42; 7. Hailu Lemlem (Eth) 4:05.61; 8. Kristiina Mäki (CzR) 4:06.61 PR; 9. Esther Guerrero (Spa) 4:06.99; 10. Georgia Griffith (Aus) 4:07.73;

11. Sara Kuivisto (Fin) 4:08.85 PR.

II–1. Arrafi 4:08.32; 2. Chebet 4:08.36; 3. Tsegay 4:08.39; 4. Houlihan 4:08.51; 5. Jessica Hull (Aus) 4:08.71; 6. Yolanda Ngarambe (Swe) 4:09.22;

7. Aisha Praught Leer (Jam) 4:09.81; 8. P. Unnikrishnan Chithra (Ind) 4:11.10 PR; 9. Caterina Granz (Ger) 4:12.36; 10. Jemma Reekie (GB) 4:12.51; 11. Maruša Mišmaš (Slo) 4:14.94; 12. Carla Mendes (CPV) 4:23.56.

III–1. Simpson 4:07.27; 2. DeBues-Stafford 4:07.28; 3. Muir 4:07.37; 4. Marta Pérez (Spa) 4:07.48; 5. Claudia Bobocea (Rom) 4:07.76; 6. Malika Akkaoui (Mor) 4:08.05; 7. Linden Hall (Aus) 4:08.12; 8. Daryia Barysevich (Blr) 4:08.19;

9. Axumawit Embaye (Eth) 4:08.56; 10. Esther Chebet (Uga) 4:08.89; 11. María Pía Fernández (Uru) 4:09.45 NR; 12. Neide Dias (Ang) 4:28.27.

SEMIS

(October 03)

I–1. Hassan 4:14.69; 2. Houlihan 4:14.91; 3. Arrafi 4:14.94; 4. Kipyegon 4:14.98; 5. Mageean 4:15.49;

6. McDonald 4:15.73; 7. Lemlem 4:16.56; 8. Guerrero 4:16.66; 9. Barysevich 4:17.04; 10. Griffith 4:17.15; 11. Mäki 4:17.65; 12. Bobocea 4:18.25.

II–1. Simpson 4:00.99; 2. DeBues-Stafford 4:01.04; 3. Muir 4:01.05; 4. Tsegay 4:01.12; 5. Chebet 4:01.14; 6. Nanyondo 4:01.30; 7. Hiltz 4:01.52 PR;

8. Hull 4:01.80 PR (fastest-ever non-qualifier); 9. Ngarambe 4:03.43 PR; 10. Hall 4:06.39; 11. Pérez 4:10.45; 12. Akkaoui 4:16.83.

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