Angry Hassan completes unique double
By Brian Homewood
DOHA (Reuters) – Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands completed a unique double when she dominated the race to win the 1,500 meters at the world athletics championship on Saturday, adding to the 10,000 meters title she won earlier in the competition.
In doing so, she became the first athlete, male or female, to win the two events at a single Olympic Games or world championships.
Hassan, who moved to the Netherlands after leaving Ethiopia as a refugee when she was 15, took over the lead at the end of the first lap and never looked back as she broke the championship record with a time of three minutes 51.95 seconds.
Titleholder Faith Kipyegon of Kenya finished more than two seconds behind in second, despite setting a Kenyan record of 3:54.22, and Ethiopia’s Guday Tsegay took the bronze.
Hassan gave an emotional interview after the race during which she said she was angry at being linked to the doping scandal involving Alberto Salazar, head coach of the Nike Oregon Project (NOP) where she trains.
“It’s a very hard week for me, I was so just angry and I could not talk to anyone. I just ran all out. That hard work can’t be beaten by anything,” she told the BBC.
“It’s what makes me angry, I have been clean all my life. I work hard, I’m not an emotional person but it makes me so mad.”
Salazar was banned for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct”.
Salazar has denied wrongdoing and vowed to appeal while Nike has said it will stand by the coach. There has been no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Hassan but she has faced constant questioning about her connections with him since the decision was announced.
After taking the lead, the 26-year-old Hassan led the field around two laps, then charged away over the last 400 meters and left the others in her wake.
Britain’s Lara Muir was second at the bell but was overhauled by Kipyegon and Tsegay around the final bend.
Kipyegon, also the Olympic champion, has returned to running after giving birth to a daughter last year.
The remarkably versatile Hassan also broke the world mile record this year, won world championship bronze over 1,500 meters in 2015 and 5,000 meters two years ago.
“I’ve been working hard at 1,500 this year,” Hassan said. “It looked this was easy for me but it took so much hard work.”
(Additional reporting by Gene Cherry; Writing by Brian Homewood, Editing by Ed Osmond)
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