Sifan Hassan has revealed how the pain of missing out on the women’s 1500m title helped give her the strength to win 10,000m gold at the Tokyo Olympics despite carrying an injury.
Hassan became only the second woman in history to complete the Olympic distance double on Saturday as she came home in 29:55.32 to add the 10,000m title to the 5,000m she won earlier in the Games.
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But Hassan revealed after the race that she had barely been able to warm up for the final such was the toll that her pursuit of an unprecedented treble had taken on her body.
The Dutch woman had been beaten into third by Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir having led for much of the 1500m final and used the defeat as motivation to write another chapter in her stunning story.
“My body was already dead yesterday (Friday). I’m the kind of person, when I lose I don’t even feel the pain,” Hassan said.
“I was injured, I couldn’t even do a stride, really. I kind of did the warm-up and I told myself just think about yesterday’s pain.
“So, every time pain came I just thought about yesterday and I got power. But the last two laps I was at the moment of collapse, but I just think about yesterday.
“I don’t worry whether I finish here, whether I finish there. But without yesterday… if I won yesterday gold believe me today I don’t finish this race.”
Hassan has been one of the standout stories on the track during Tokyo 2020 as people have followed her attempts to win three distance gold medals.
And the 28-year-old admitted that she was plagued by doubts throughout the Games about whether it was an achievable feat.
“I wanted to win three,” she added, “but every single day [I had] caution for myself and what I’m doing.
“[When] I woke up from my sleep, ‘no, I can’t do it, I can’t’. I was really cautioning myself, I had so many doubts about it.
“One funny thing, the day I had the 5,000m heat I just got something in my coat. I pulled up my coat when I warmed up and that was really 30 seconds before [the race]. In the calling room I was crying, I started to cry.
“I thought ‘OK, I’m not going to do well’. When we did all the laps I was really… [like] somebody got shot in my head, I was crying and I thought, ‘OK, I just finished the heat’.”
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