Disaster nearly struck for Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands in Sunday’s heat in the women’s 1,500 meter.
Scratch that — disaster did strike. Hassan just overcame it en route to an improbable come-from-behind win and advancement to the women’s 1500 semifinals on Monday. Hassan, looking to earn an unprecedented three golds in the women’s 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, very nearly had that dream smashed when she fell just after the bell lap of Sunday’s heat.
Shortly after beginning the final lap of the 3 3/4-lap race, Kenya’s Edinah Jebitok ran into foot traffic, stumbling and knocking herself and Hassan — who was cruising in the back — to the ground. It seemed as if Hassan, winner of the 2019 world championships in the women’s 1,500, would have to settle for medals in the 5K and 10K.
That is, until she got up and finished the race with a time of 4.05:28, just .11 ahead of Australia’s Jessica Hull. Hassan didn’t have the luxury of waiting to kick into high gear till later in the race, either: She was forced to overcome the huge deficit, expending her energy much earlier than would usually be necessary:
Hassan — the 1,500 and 10,000 world champion and 5,000 bronze medalist — now has the possibility of scoring three golds at Tokyo, which would mark an Olympic first. She will run in the 5,000 final at 8:40 a.m. ET on Monday; the 1500 semifinal at 6:12 a.m. on Wednesday; and the 10,000 final at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday. Assuming she makes the 1,500 final, her final race in that event will be at 8:50 a.m. on Friday.
Regardless of whether she completes that legendary triple crown, Twitter was in awe of her determination as she overcame the odds — and the track — to keep those aspirations alive:
Sifan Hassan fell down with a lap to go and won the second heat.
— RunnerSpace (@runnerspace) August 2, 2021
Sifan Hassan is….ready.
I’ve never seen anything as impressive as that in a 1500 heat. Falls with 380 to go, rolls, loses 25-30 metres, gets up, still wins.
— Cathal Dennehy (@Cathal_Dennehy) August 2, 2021
Falling on the last lap of a 1500 is only a problem if your name isn’t Sifan Hassan
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) August 2, 2021
As if running the triple wasn’t enough, Sifan Hassan (in orange) goes down hard with one lap to go in her 1500m prelim, but gets up and manages to win the race. She covered the last 300m in 43.8, and will run the 5,000m final in less than 12 hours. #Tokyo2020 #Athletics pic.twitter.com/5EXTCEOs0I
— Fast Women (@fast_women) August 2, 2021
Sifan Hassan is the 🐐🐐🐐🐐🐐. She falls in 10th place gets up and still wins the heat!!!!
— CutTheCheck (@CoachKenny__) August 2, 2021
Sifan Hassan’s final lap splits 👀
last 400m – 61.1 (includes the fall)
last 300m – 43.8
last 200m – 29.6
last 100m – 15.2
— FloTrack (@FloTrack) August 2, 2021