London Marathon: Sifan Hassan overcomes injury to claim rollercoaster victory in debut marathon

129466560 gettyimages 1484451584


It has been dubbed one of the greatest victories of all time – it was also one of the most dramatic.

Sifan Hassan, a two-time Olympic champion on the track but someone who had never raced a marathon, winning in London against a fearsome field of champions, each experts over 26.2 miles.

That would be remarkable enough but early on Hassan looked like she was going to have to drop out.

She was limping, struggling with a hip injury and at one stage pulled to the side of the road to stretch out the issue as her rivals disappeared up the road.

“She needs to stop,” Britain’s marathon world champion Paula Radcliffe said on BBC TV.

“Somebody needs to give her some advice to step off and stop trying to run on.”

But Hassan, a former refugee who left Ethiopia for the Netherlands as a 15-year-old, did not stop.

She continued, reeled in the Olympic marathon champion and last year’s winner in London before sprinting for glory on The Mall.

“To outkick them is remarkable,” Radcliffe said.

“It’s not just winning it, it’s the way she was out of contention and yet she fought back to beat the Olympic champion, the defending champion.

“She is an inspiration and that is just phenomenal.”

Before the race the 30-year-old was not talking like someone confident of winning a marathon.

She admitted she was “scared” of competing over the distance. She said she cried at the prospect on the morning of the race.

“Sometimes I wake up and it is like ‘why the hell did I decide to run a marathon?’ But also, at the same time, I am very curious [about how I will perform],” she said in the pre-race news conference.

Hassan’s build-up was also impacted by the holy month of Ramadan which, as with others who follow the religion of Islam, meant abstaining from eating or drinking during daylight hours.

That is not ideal preparation for a marathon.

Asked how she changed her plans from those that saw her win 5,000 and 10,000m gold at the Tokyo, she said: “I have not really changed the way I train.

“I just added a little bit the endurance because also I am fasting. I didn’t add that much.”

Even in the closing stages there was more drama for Hassan.

Sifan Hassan
Hassan won in a time of two hours 18 minutes 33 seconds

She almost missed collecting a drink from the drinks station, something track runners do not even have to think about.

But Hassan veered across the road after realising her mistake, collected a her bottle and even recovered to offer 2022 London Marathon winner Yalemzerf Yehualaw a swig. That said, she still almost collided with a support motorbike.

“I’m born to have drama,” she joked.

“I didn’t practise getting a drink. I saw the other athletes go and I thought ‘where are they going?’. So I grabbed a drink.”

After completing the win, Hassan’s bubbly personality came pouring out in an interview with the BBC’s Gabby Logan. It was almost as entertaining as her run.

“It was just amazing. I never thought I would finish a marathon and here I am winning it,” she said.

At one stage she had her head in her hands, clearly still unable to fully comprehend what she had done.

“My leg was bothering me,” Hassan added.

“I had a hip problem a week ago. I forgot to tape it this morning. I stopped and stretched, and they got away, but I started to feel good after 10km.”

In the end, the more than two-hour race came down to a sprint in the final few metres.

First Yehualaw was dropped, leaving Hassan in a three-way fight with Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and Ethiopia’s Alemu Megertu – the runner-up last year.

Given Hassan had now run four times as far as her normal distance, you would think she would be tired. Not a chance…

“At 20km I knew that I could kick on because I didn’t feel that tired and I didn’t care how I finished, I just wanted to get there,” she said.

“They said the marathon would hurt but I felt really good, even after 5km and 15km! When I saw the finish line, I thought, is that really it?”

Commentators were stunned as she crossed the finish line, arms outstretched.

“Sifan Hassan has done something that nobody could ever have expected,” Steve Cram said. “She was struggling, she was grabbing her hip, stopping to stretch it off.

“She can hardly believe it, this might just be the best success of her life.”

The BBC’s Andrew Cotter added: “She just defies convention. She hasn’t run that in a normal way and that’s why it is the greatest marathon win that I have seen, because of the way she did it.

“Two World Championship golds and two Olympic golds on the track, but that is the best win of her life.”

Watch on iPlayer bannerWatch on iPlayer footer


Source link

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

    129466577 woutweghorst

    Brighton 0-0 Man Utd (6-7 on pens): Victor Lindelof scores winning penalty to set up all-Manchester FA Cup final

    129455821 p0fjcrrg

    FA Cup semi-final: Lindelof penalty sends Man Utd into FA Cup final