BUDAPEST (19-Aug) — In a nail-biting race with a painfully slow start and a rough and tumble finish, the Ethiopian trio of Gudaf Tsegay, Letesenbet Gidey and Ejgayehu Taye took gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in the women’s 10,000m on the first day of the 2023 World Athletics Championships at the brand new National Athletics Center here. Sadly, Dutch star Sifan Hassan fell just below the finish line and failed to podium.
Ethiopians Sweep The Podium For The 3rd Time
It was the third podium sweep by Ethiopian women at a world championships in this discipline, a feat achieved previously in Helsinki in 2005 (Tirunesh Dibaba, Birhane Adere and Ejagayou Dibaba), and in Edmonton in 2001 (Derartu Tulu, Birhane Adere and Gete Wami).
“We never give up,” a delighted Tsegay told reporters after the race.
But such an outcome was a long shot given that the powerful Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan was entered in the race and had the audacious goal of winning the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m at these championships.
She won her 1500m preliminary heat earlier today, and had a plan to use her superior speed to win tonight. And she nearly did it, but you’d never know that from her 11th place finish.
“It was kind of crazy,” said American Alicia Monson, who finished fifth, when asked about the final 800 meters of the race.
Until that point, it was a classic championship-style race. The field of 22 women jogged through the first kilometer in 3:37.6 led by American Natosha Rogers, then Finland’s Camilla Richardsson took over and ran at the front through 5000m in 16:23.55. Hassan was in 15th place, in no hurry to join the leaders.
Richardsson had been running laps in the 75 to 77-second range, a pace that the entire field could handle. It wasn’t until about 6000m that the pace quickened when Tsegay, the 2022 world 5000m champion, took over at the front.
Working with her teammates, she clocked 72.1, 72.3 and 73.5 through 7200m and the race sudden got more serious. Still, nothing of real consequence would happen until there were two laps to go when Gidey squeezed it down to 71-flat and the big players decided to show their cards.
Sifan Hassan Starts To Move Up In The Race
Hassan moved up from ninth place the lap before to fourth place at the bell. She held steady until the beginning of the backstretch where she unleashed her explosive kick for the finish.
Tsegay responded, but was still trailing the Dutchwoman with 200 to go.
Charging down the homestretch, Hassan began to tie up. She veered into lane three as Tsegay tried to pass her and the slow motion reply showed the two women made contact with Hassan’s right elbow hitting Tsegay’s torso.
The race was too close to call until the final 20 meters when the exhausted Hassan lost her balance, pitched forward, and fell hard to the track. Stunned, she slowly rose to her feet before walking across the finish line, passed by ten women, including the fifth place Monson.
“I was there with a lap to go,” Monson told reporters. She added: “I fought for every spot and I’m proud of that, I’m happy with that.”
Hassan’s Hurting Inside
Although she greeted her fellow competitors with grace and smiles, following her fall, Sifan Hassan, who has her 1500m semi-final tomorrow night, did not immediately speak with the media.
Eventually, the Dutch icon addressed the fall.
“I am keeping my smile but it is really hard. I am very disappointed,” said Hassan. “This is sport, these things happen. I just had a bad moment. I felt really strong and tried to push in the last lap.
“I think I got pushed by the Ethiopian. I hope I am not crazy. I will need to look at the replay to see what exactly happened.”
Tsegay was clocked in 31:27.18, and despite the contact with Hassan, ran her final circuit in 59.1 seconds and the second half in 15:03.6.
Gidey, the defending champion, ran 31:28.16 and Taye was just a fraction of a second behind in 31:28.31. Kenya’s Irine Kimais got fourth in 31:32.19.
USA champion Elise Cranny had a tough day and finished 12th. She struggled, she said, in the final two kilometers.
“I think I was, like, blacking out those last three laps,” she told reporters. She added: “I feel like with a mile to go it just hit me. I had nothing left.”
PHOTO: Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia (left) passes the falling Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands to win the 10,000m title at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)