DOHA (Reuters) - Sifan Hassan displayed her remarkable versatility by producing a stunning final lap to win the women’s 10,000 metres at the world athletics championships on Saturday, an event she ran for the first time only in May.
The Dutchwoman overtook Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey just before the bell and powered away over the final lap to win in a season’s best time of 30 minutes 17.63 seconds and claim the first world or Olympic title of her career.
Gidey, who also started to run 10,000 metres this year, was second and Kenya’s Agnes Tirop third.
Gidey and the other Ethiopian runners enjoyed the backing of a small but noisy, flag-waving contingent of their compatriots in the crowd, but thousands of seats remained empty at the Khalifa stadium.
The arena’s air conditioning system ensured that the runners did not have to cope with Doha’s searing heat.
Hassan, who moved to the Netherlands after leaving Ethiopia as a refugee when she was 15, won world championship bronze over 1,500 metres in 2015 and 5,000 metres two years ago.
She broke the world mile record in July and boasts a European record of one minute 5.15 seconds for the half marathon.
Hassan has entered the 1,500 and 5,000 metres later in the Doha competition but will have to choose only one of them as they clash.
“I have been a middle-distance runner and this was a test for me,” said Hassan. “It was okay at the beginning but then when they were kicking at the front, I had to try hard to keep in touch.
“But I knew that I am more of a 1,500 or 5,000 runner so if I could get close I would have enough to win.”
As expected, the race turned into a cagey battle between Ethiopians and Kenyans with Hassan in their midst as a group of six runners broke away.
Hassan at one stage looked uncomfortable and when Gidey made a break with four laps left, she seemed the likely winner.
But Hassan stayed in touch, closed the gap to go second with two laps left and burst away over the final lap to clinch the gold.
“Sifan simply was better than me tonight,” said Gidey. “I expected to come first but being second is still good as these are my first world championships.”
Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond and Clare Fallon