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Sifan Hassan on course for unprecedented treble as she secures 5,000m gold

The Dutch runner is also aiming for gold in the 1500m and 10,000m events.

Sifan Hassan.
Sifan Hassan.
Image: DPA/PA Images

DUTCH RUNNER SIFAN Hassan took a first, giant step in her bid for an unprecedented Olympic treble when she sprinted to gold in the 5,000m on Monday.

Ethiopian-born Hassan, 28, produced a devastating final-lap sprint to time 14min 36.79sec.

Kenya’s two-time world champion Hellen Obiri claimed silver in 14:38.36, with Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay taking bronze with 14:38.87.

Any fears Hassan might have to ride out tactics designed to thwart her from east African rivals Ethiopia and Kenya came to nothing in a slow-paced race that ended with an almighty bang that perfectly suited her explosive finishing skills.

Hassan arrived in Tokyo aiming not just for the 5,000m, but also the 1500m and 10,000m in an unprecedented tilt at middle-distance dominance.

She became the first athlete to achieve the 1500 and 10,000m world double in Doha in 2019, an astonishing display given that it coincided with a four-year ban handed down to her then coach Alberto Salazar, the head of the now-disbanded Nike-funded Oregon Project.

The 5,000m in Tokyo always promised to be a potential banana skin.

In Ethiopians Tsegay, Ejgayehu Taye and Senbere Teferi, and Kenya’s Obiri and Agnes Tirop, the entry list featured five of the world’s 10 fastest ever over the distance.

But pace proved no problem for Hassan, whose gold capped a remarkable day after she fell in her 1500m heat in the morning session just 12 hours previously, but quickly got to her feet and won.

In the longer race, she was happy to bide her time, eventually moving into the slipstream of the trio of Ethiopians, Obiri and Tirop, Kenyan-born Turk Yasemin Can and Ethiopian-born Israel Selamawit Teferi.

Japanese pacer Ririka Hironaka fell off with six laps to go and Taye took up the running, but with neither the Kenyans nor Ethiopians showing any urgency.

Forming an orderly double-filed pack, the race almost had the feel of a training run, but with two laps to go, a lead group of seven broke free, although an outright attack never materialised.

Obiri led Tsegay and Taye through the bell with Hassan immediately moving up through the field and into the lead down the back straight.

Hitting the front with 250 metres to go, Hassan put on the afterburners, chased by Obiri, but the Dutchwoman produced a startling sprint finish to cap an incredible day’s running and herald an excellent start to her attempt to take home three golds.

Elsewhere today, Valarie Allman gave the United States their first track and field gold of the Tokyo Olympics, on the fourth day of competition, as she won the women’s discus on Monday.

The 26-year-old won gold with a best mark of 68.98 metres with Germany’s Kristin Pudenz taking silver (66.86m) and Yaime Perez of Cuba bronze (65.72m).

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Two-time defending champion Sandra Perkovic of Croatia finished fourth.

Elaine Thompson-Herah threw down the gauntlet to her rivals on Monday as the defending Olympic 200 metres champion won her semi-final in terrific style in a personal best of 21.66 seconds.

The 29-year-old, who is seeking to complete her second successive 100m/200m Olympic double, looks most under threat in Tuesday’s final from her compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Finally, Wayde van Niekerk’s reign as Olympic 400m champion came to a disappointing end on Monday as the South African world record holder was eliminated in the semi-finals at the Tokyo Games.

Van Niekerk, who produced one of the highlights of the 2016 Rio Olympics with an electrifying world record run of 43.03sec in the final, was dumped out of contention after a fifth place finish in his semi-final.

The 29-year-old from Cape Town, who has struggled to regain full fitness after injuring his knee during a celebrity rugby game in 2017, could only manage a time of 45.14sec.

That left him only 12th fastest overall and out of the running for a place in Wednesday’s final.

 © – AFP, 2021

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