Sifan Hassan dials down expectations after Tokyo medal triple

AMSTERDAM : Triple Olympic medal winner Sifan Hassan will not be chasing hattrick of titles at the World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon, but rather add only one other event to her bid to win the 5,000 metres world title.

She will make a decision this week whether it be the 1,500 metres or the 10,000 metres.

The Dutch distance runner did the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres gold double at last year’s Tokyo Olympics and took bronze in the 1,500 metres and says the stress of chasing the triple left her exhausted.

“I took a lot of rest and found it very difficult to get going again, to get focused,” she told the Dutch media in the build-up to the world championship, which starts on Friday.

“The Olympics was a highlight. It was really difficult to set new goals thereafter. I was running away from running. I had no motivation. But then I began to miss running,” she added.

It was only 10 weeks ago that the 29-year-old decided to refocus but says she has taken a deliberate decision to take it a little easier.

“Somewhere along the line you’ve got to give up something in order to have a longer career,” she told the Algemeen Dagblad.

Hassan pointed out that after Eugene, another world championship followed in Budapest next year, then Paris Olympics in 2024 and then another world championship in 2025 – the calendar having been squeezed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is too much. I am scared that if I trained like I have over the last years I would burn myself out.”

She said she was satisfied with what she has achieved so far – two golds at the last world championship in Doha in 2019 and then the Tokyo triple last year.

“You get what you work for. I have trained this time but not as much as previous years. That means I can’t really expect that I will be at the highest level. But I have no regrets and I’m really pleased with how I’m feeling now.”

Hassan ran her first race of the season last Friday, winning the 5,000 metres race at an event in Portland.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)