Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands wins the 1500m at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships, March 19, 2016, at the Oregon Convention Center. (PHOTO: Thomas Boyd/OregonLive.com)
Seven months ago in Beijing, Sifan Hassan left the women’s 1500-meter final at the World Championships in tears. Though her close was incredible — she covered the final 800 meters in a sensational 1:57.6 to earn bronze — she was merely a footnote to the coronation of middle distance queen Genzebe Dibaba. It wasn’t the first time Hassan’s brilliance had been outshone by the transcendent talent of Genzebe Dibaba: when Sifan Hassan ran 3:56.05 last year in Monaco — the fastest non-Dibaba time since 2006 — she was half a straightaway behind Genzebe Dibaba, who was well into her world record celebration by the time Sifan Hassan crossed the line.
But there was no Genzebe Dibaba in the women’s 1500 final tonight at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships, and Hassan took full advantage, using a 29.81-second final lap to hold off Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum to earn her first global title in 4:04.96. Dawit Seyaum was spectacular, but her run was only good enough for silver as she finished right behind Sifan Hassan, just as she did in Beijing. Dawit Seyaum’s countrywoman Gudaf Tsegay nabbed the bronze in 4:05.71 as America’s Brenda Martinez was outclassed and had to settle for fifth in 4:09.57.
Just as she did in her prelim, Aussie Melissa Duncan went right to the front and by 400 meters (65.87) had about a 10-meter lead on the field. Hassan began the race boxed in toward the back of the pack, but she made her trademark move to the front on the third lap and by 600 she had moved into second place. By 800 (2:12.71), she was on Duncan’s shoulder as Dawit Seyaum, Gudaf Tsegay and Brenda Martinez all followed close behind.
Just before the 1k mark (2:46.35), Sifan Hassan moved into the lead, but she didn’t make a big move right away, covering the next lap in 33.64 seconds. Sifan Hassan sped it up slightly from there and as she approached the bell, she led with Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay hot on her tail. Brenda Martinez was still in touching distance in fourth, but had a lot of work to do to contend for the win.
Dawit Seyaum pulled up on Hassan’s shoulder at the bell and tried to pass, which spurred Sifan Hassan to launch into her kick. Dawit Seyaum was the only one to go with her and the field began to string out, with Sifan Hassan and Dawit Seyaum creating a slight gap on Gudaf Tsegay, who in turn had a larger gap on the rest of the field.
Entering the home straight the medals were decided, but the gold medal still hung in the balance. Hassan, as she had for the entire final 500 meters, led slightly, with Dawit Seyaum trying desperately to muscle her way past. But Hassan would not let up, and she held on for a well-deserved gold medal. Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay followed in quick succession, with the rest of the pack well behind. Axumawit Embaye won a three-way kick to make it 1-2-3-4 for Ethiopian-born athletes, while Martinez and Duncan took fifth and sixth.