October 5, 2019
DOHA, Qatar — Could a human being actually win the 10,000 and 1500 meters at the same World Championships?
That’s what everyone was wondering entering the women’s 1500 final today at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Answer: Most definitely.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who won the 10,000 last Friday night with a 3:59 final 1500 meters, mesmerized the world in winning the 1500 tonight in equally dominant fashion by front-running running a 3:51.95 championship record, the 5th-fastest time ever recorded. She did all this just five days after her coach, Alberto Salazar, who was in Doha to watch Hassan win the 10,000, was handed a four-year ban from the sport by USADA for anti-doping violations.
Behind her, a pack of six women did a great job of keeping this close until the final 250 and they all were rewarded with exceptional times as well. Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya earned the silver in a 3:54.22 national record (previous pb of 3:56.41) and Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia got the bronze with a 3:54.39 pb (previous pb of 3:57.40).
American Shelby Houlihan ended up outside the medals, but she got a nice consolation prize — a 3:54.99 American record as she smashed Shannon Rowbury’s AR of 3:56.29 and her own pb of 3:57.34. Brit Laura Muir, who was running right on Hassan’s shoulder entering the bell and stayed with her until the final 250, once again came up short of a medal in fifth in 3:55.76, as her training partner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford of Canada was sixth in a Canadian record of 3:58.12.
Jenny Simpson, who lost contact with the leaders just before the bell, was 8th in a seasonal best of 3:58.42 while fellow American Nikki Hiltz was never a factor and last in 4:06.68.
When the gun went off, Hassan and Laura Muir both showed zero interest in running hard the first 100 as Hassan went out in next to last and Muir in last. However, Hassan didn’t say in the back for long as midway around the first turn she moved way wide and started to move up. By 300 (48.20), she had the lead and the rest of the race was an art form. Hassan showed what she was capable of if she went hard for virtually the entire distance as she squeezed the pace down all the way to the finish line hitting 400 in 63.51, 800 in 2:05.92 (61.41), 1200 in 3:07.36 (61.44) before finishing things off with a final 300 of 44.59 (final 400 of 59.66).
1 Sifan HASSAN NED 3:51.95 CR NR
2 Faith KIPYEGON KEN 3:54.22 NR
3 Gudaf TSEGAY ETH 3:54.38 PB
4 Shelby HOULIHAN USA 3:54.99 AR
5 Laura MUIR GBR 3:55.76 SB
6 Gabriela DEBUES-STAFFORD CAN 3:56.12 NR
7 Winny CHEBET KEN 3:58.20 PB
8 Jenny SIMPSON USA 3:58.42 SB
9 Rababe ARAFI MAR 3:59.93
10 Ciara MAGEEAN IRL 4:00.15 PB
11 Winnie NANYONDO UGA 4:00.63
12 Nikki HILTZ USA 4:06.68
Quick Take; As crazy as this race was, it didn’t come anywhere close to setting all-time best marks for places 2-9.
The deepest 1500 race in history game at the 1997 Chinese National Games where 5 Chinese broke 3:55 and 9 broke 3:59. After the race, coach Ma Junren credited the success not to PEDs but to a tonic from caterpillar fungus.
1997 Chinese National Games 1500 Results
3:50.46 Qu Yunxia
3:50.98 Jiang Bo
3:53.91 Yin Lili
3:53.97 Lan Lixin
3:54.52 Zhang Ling
3:55.07 Dong Yanmei
3:57.77 Liu Jing
3:57.83 Qu Yunxia
3:58.18 Liu Dong
4:02.22 Wang Qingfen
Quick Take: Shelby Houlihan ran 3:54 and finished 4th
Shelby Houlihan may have been the most disappointed person to ever set an American record. When we spoke to her in the mixed zone, she said she felt “very disappointed” with her result tonight — even though she didn’t just break, but destroyed the American record by 1.30 seconds. The problem, of course, is that still was not enough to earn a medal.
“To come into this, PR by three seconds, get the American record, and it not be enough to medal, it’s kind of a hard pill to swallow,” Houlihan said.
That’s a testament to the standard Houlihan holds herself to. 3:54 would have won gold, easily, in every other World Championship final. She just happened to be in the deepest World Championship final in history.
Houlihan said that she felt she was in around 3:54 shape coming into the race. When Hassan took the race early, coming through 400 in 63.53, Houlihan thought to herself, Here we go, this is what I want — Houlihan had been running 63s in practice, and they felt natural to her. Little did she know that she wasn’t the only woman in the field ready to run 3:54 tonight.
Discussion: SHELBY MF HOULIHAN
Quick Take: Hassan’s run tonight closed out a season for the ages
Hassan’s 2019 season will be spoken in the annals of distance running lore as she has put together a remarkable string of accomplishments over distances ranging from 1500 to 10k. During the Diamond League season, she ran the fastest non-Chinese time ever over 3k outdoors (8:18.49) and broke a 23-year-old world record in the mile (4:12.33).
Once she got to Doha, either of her races would have gone down as one of the greatest championship performances ever — closing her final 1500 in 3:59 to win the 10k title and then running a ridiculous championship record of 3:51.95 to become the sixth-fastest woman ever over 1500 (and second non-Chinese). To pull them both off in the span of eight days? It’s one of the most impressive spells in the history of the sport.
And Hassan may not be done.
“I want to do a marathon without marathon preparation,” Hassan said. “I just want to see what is in me, how far I can go. But I don’t know when.”
While we’re at it, Hassan deserves major props for running the 1500 here. The 10k/5k is the more natural double, but Hassan tried to become a legend with the 10k/1500, and now she is one.
Quick Take: Hassan said she decided on her front-running strategy when she decided to run the 1500 on Tuesday
Hassan led this thing for almost the entire way, and it was a smart strategy. When you’re in 3:51 shape (well, she’s probably fitter than that if she had a pacemaker to help), why take any risks? Just take it from the front and run away from everyone.
Hassan said that when she arrived at the practice track on Tuesday, Salazar told her that she had a world record for 1500 meters in her legs and she made the decision to try to run a PR in the final. From there, Hassan said she “didn’t talk about any strategy because I don’t have anyone to give [it].”
(We didn’t tape this portion of the press conference, but the Salazar ban was announced around 3 a.m. Doha time on Tuesday, so he should not have been able to have any contact with athletes from that point forward. The Dutch federation announced in a statement that Hassan was being coached by Dutch head coach Charles van Commenée as of Tuesday).
Quick Take: Sifan Hassan: “If they want to, they can test me every single day”
Hassan was asked multiple times after the race why, after one of the most phenomenal weeks in World Championships history — a week in which her coach was banned for four years for anti-doping violations — fans should believe she’s clean.
Clearly, Hassan is frustrated that there is suspicion surrounding her performances due to her association with Salazar, and the normally meek Hassan issued fiery responses in both the mixed zone and post-race press conference when asked about the subject:
Hassan provided a couple of reasons to believe in her. One, she has been world-class since 2014. That year, at age 21, Hassan won two Diamond Leagues and the European title and ran 3:57.00 for 1500m. Since then, she has been among the best distance runners in the world, running 3:56.05 in 2015 and winning a World Indoor title in 2016 before joining NOP at the end of that year.
“I’m almost five years constant athlete,” Hassan said. “I’ve always been the best. Well, I wouldn’t call myself the best. But I do my best…If I cheat, I never be constant before I work with [Salazar].”
Two, Hassan said, she is tested frequently — she has been in the spotlight plenty this year after her 8:18 3k at Prefontaine and her 4:12 mile WR in Monaco, yet she has never failed a test.
“What do people think? Do they think I don’t get tested?…I was clean, I want to stay clean, i will stay forever also clean. If they want to, they can test me every single day.”
Skeptics will argue, however, that testing can be beaten. And the idea that Hassan has always been this good doesn’t quite hold water. Hassan was world-class before she joined Salazar, yest, but this year she’s gone from world-class to historically great. The only women ahead of her on the all-time list for 1500 and 3000 meters are Genzebe Dibaba and a slew of Chinese/Eastern European women suspected of doping. And no woman in history has won both the 1500 and 10k at the same World Champs — a double no one would have even contemplated before this year.
Of course, it’s possible for an athlete like Hassan to improve as she enters her prime (she’s 26), but whenever you run 3:51 for 1500 meters (without a pacemaker), there will always be doping speculation, no matter who your coach is.
Quick take: Hassan should blame herself, Nike, and her coach for people asking questions, not the media
Hassan can only blame herself and her former coach for the extra scrutiny. Hassan willingly chose to associate with Salazar after the BBC/Pro Publica report was out, which alleged many of the things that the arbitration panel ruled were doping violations. Her coach was also in the Athletics West program which was linked to steroids, and was the coach of Mary Slaney, who served a doping ban. Now it’s possible Hassan, being from Netherlands, did not know the history of Salazar, but the BBC/ProPublica story was out when she joined the group. And Nike most definitely knew the history of Salazar, but likely encouraged her to work with him. Extra scrutiny is rightfully going to come to anyone who chose to work with Salazar.
Quick Take: Faith Kipyegon is a great 1500m runner
Faith Kipyegon was the defending World and Olympic champion and before that had a silver from the 2015 Worlds in Beijing. She did not come through the mixed zone or attend the press conference because of an unknown medical issue but she did issue some quotes to the press.
“I am so happy to win a silver medal. It was a very good race and I liked the way it went. I have had problems (in my right quadriceps) before. I tried my best to get on the podium. I didn’t know I was going to run a national record. I am also happy for Sifan. She was very strong. Congratulations to her.”
Kipyegon missed most of the year with her medical problems, but when she ran she was very good and she left today with a national record and silver medal. She rightfully tipped her cap to Hassan who was just better than her today.
Quick Take: Jenny Simpson proud to run 3:58 at age 33
Simpson thought if she could close in 57 seconds for her last lap tonight, she would earn a medal. While that was true, the problem is that Simpson had already run 3:57 pace for her first 1100 meters, making a close in 57 next to impossible for her.
Though Simpson acknowledged that finishing 8th was not what she wanted, she was incredibly proud of her performance tonight. 3:58.42 was her fastest time ever at a global championship, and her fastest in any race for over three years.
“To run a season’s best at 33 years old…I’ve been in the sport long enough to know what’s good for me, and that was a really good run for me tonight,” Simpson said. “It’s not totally binary, but you kind of have this choice: either look at what you didn’t do, or look at what you did do. I just am so proud, if i compare Jenny to Jenny, that at this point in a career, it’s frickin’ October 5 and I ran 3:58. I’m really, really proud of that.”
As for Hassan’s performance tonight, Simpson reiterated what she said after the semis: the rules allow Hassan to compete, so she is going to race her.
“I raced her, she won, I got eighth, that’s the results,” Simpson said.
Quick Take: Simpson declines to say whether she visited Dr. Jeffrey Brown
Salazar wasn’t the only person USADA banned from the sport last week. Dr. Jeffrey Brown, the Houston-based endocrinologist was also handed a four-year ban for tampering with patient records, administering an over-limit L-carnitine infusion, and being complicit in Salazar’s testosterone trafficking.
Brown has a link to Simpson, albeit tangential: while Brown was known for his links to Salazar, the USADA interim report leaked to FloTrack in 2017 said that former NOP runner Adam Goucher was initially introduced to Brown by his college coach, Mark Wetmore. Wetmore coached Simpson in college from 2005-2009 and as a professional from 2013 to the present. So we asked Simpson: has she ever visited Dr. Brown?
“The other thing, along with the rules, that I believe in is people’s right to medical privacy,” Simpson responded. “And so I won’t answer that just based on the premise that I also don’t think that athletes should be required to share their declared substances, right? I think people have a right to medical history privacy. So that’s what I’ll say.”
QT: Laura Muir pleased to run a season’s best
Laura Muir has been one of the best 1500 runners of the last five years, with two Diamond League titles to show for it. However, she has yet to win an outdoor medal. In 2017, Muir went for gold and ended up outside the medals. This year, she tried to stay with Hassan, and ended up outside the medals, but she was pleased to run a season’s best because this year she has been dealing with injuries that sidelined her since the end of July. To come nearly within a half second of a PR was a mini success.
Quick take: Nikki Hiltz didn’t have it today but had a great 2019
A near PR in the 1st round and PR in the semifinals ended a great year.
Talk about the action on our fan forum / messageboard.
- Official Doha WCs Day 9 (Saturday) Discussion Thread
- Sifan Hassan = GOAT! 3:51.95 FROM THE FRONT!!
- SHELBY MF HOULIHAN She smashed the American record but didn’t medal.
- Was Jenny Simpson herself actually a Dr. Brown patient? Jenny Simpson doesn’t deny that she too was a patient of Dr. Brown’s A source told us that Simpson, who has been very outspoken against the NOP this week, was once herself a patient of Dr. Brown and she didn’t deny it when we asked her about it.
- Simpson goes home devastated
- Sifan Hassan will make 1500M Final Fast & Hard!
- Jama Aden athletes = dirty, Salazar athletes = clean