Hassan blows rivals away as Mageean finishes 10th
Irish athlete records personal best but unable to live with blistering 1,500m final pace
Sifan Hassan of Netherlands celebrates wining gold in the Women’s 1,500 metres. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Oh mercy. Now that was properly incredible, Sifan Hassan producing the single most impressive women’s 1,500 metres in World Championship history to complete an unprecedented distance running double - a properly astonishing race too that also saw Ciara Mageean produce the run of her life to make the top 10.
In winning her second gold medal on another hot night of athletics in Doha, Hassan clocked 3:51.95, and that’s not a misprint: it is a new World Championship record, a new Dutch record, and the sixth fastest women’s 1,500m time in history.
Even more impressive than the 3:59 she ran for the final 1,500m of her 10,000m victory last Saturday, Hassan continues to go where no female distance runner has gone before - and taking others too. Because behind her came a long reel of lifetime bests and none more rewarding that Mageean’s, her 4:00.15 in 10th place just a lick away from the magical four-minute barrier, and also Sonia O’Sullivan’s Irish record of 3:58.85, set 25 years ago.
Mageean was closing on that in other ways too, the first Irish woman to make a World 1,500m final since O’Sullivan in Athens back in 1997, where she finished eighth, four years after winning silver in the event behind in the infamously fast China’s Liu Dong in Stuttgart.
Indeed Mageean’s 4:00.15 was faster than Dong ran to win gold in 1993, also faster that the gold medal winning time in the last five editions of this event.
Mageean was suitably satisfied: “Oh yeah, top 10 in the world, in a race like that, I’m over the moon, not bad for a wee girl from Portaferry. It was a fast race, I thought it might be steady, but once Hassan went on outside, I thought ‘right, we’re in for a treat now, get ready to run hard’
“But I wasn’t going to lose my head, and I gave it everything over the last lap. Every place, every little peg. But I want to be up there in the future, hunting for the medals, I feel I’m going from strength to strength, that’s another personal best, and it’s been a stellar season, really. I’m overwhelmed by the support as well, so thank you to everyone.”
Hassan was always going to be the athlete to beat, despite the absence of her Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, no longer allowed to associate with her after being given a four-year ban on Monday for anti-doping violations; only no-one expected her to move to the front as early as she did, taking up the lead at 800m, passed in 2:05.9, before simply killing off her rivals with each passing stride.
Into the homestretch the race was already reduced to silver and bronze, defending champion Faith Kipyegon also running a Kenyan record to win silver in 3:54.22, with Gudaf Tsegay from Ethiopia also running a lifetime best of 3:54.38 to take bronze.
Reigning European champion Laura Muir was, like London 2017, again run out of the medals and had to be content with fifth in a season best of 3:55.76, Shelby Houlihan also running an American record of 3:54.99 and still only finishing fourth. Oh Mercy.
Still Hassan appeared to have plenty more in reserve, if required: the world record of 3:50.08, set by Genzeba Dibaba of Ethiopia in 2016, looked well within her reach had she truly wanted it. Born and raised in Ethiopia before moving to the Netherlands as a teenager, Hassan becomes the first woman to win a 1,500m-10,000m double, no man going there either by the way.
Clearly emotionally charged afterwards, Hassan said: “Look, I didn’t mind the time. This has been a very hard week for me, I was so angry, so upset, so mad I couldn’t talk to anyone. But I’ve worked so hard, people are talking such bullshit. And I’m sorry for my language, but a lot of people, my coach (Salazar), always tell me I can improve every year. And this is proof that women can run amazing times with hard work.”
Just ahead of Mageean in ninth was Rababe Arafi from Morocco, who clocked 3:59.93, only Mageean could have no complaints whatsoever about her effort or her 4:00.15, improving her lifetime from 4:01.21, clocked in Monaco back in July.
For Muir, that fifth place in 3:55.76 felt properly ridiculous: “I don’t know what to say,” said the Scottish women. “Fifth in 3:55? I just tried to handle the pace as best I can, but I’m just so, so speechless. I clocked at 800m we were fast, but I’m so proud to finish fifth in that race, run that sort of time, off the season of injury that I’ve had.”
Not long after Hassan’s exhibition, Hellen Obiri from Kenya defended her 5,000m title with another championship best performance of 14:26.72, with another Nike Oregon Project athlete Konstanze Klosterhalfen winning a first bronze medal for Germany in the event, running 14:28.43.
For Mageean, 10th place in the world caps a memorable year that also saw her win European Indoor bronze in Glasgow back in March. From Portaferry, at the tip of the Ards Peninsula, the 27 year-old had no regrets and rightly so. Four-flat, in a major championship final, and 10th place. Oh Mercy.