The Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan has announced she will make an audacious and historic assault on the 1500m, 5,000m and 10,000m treble at the Tokyo Olympics.
The triple gold attempt will involve six hard races in eight days, including competing in the 1500m heats on Monday morning followed by the 5,000m final the same night, in temperatures above 30C and high humidity.
But Hassan, who won world 1500m and 10,000m gold in Doha in 2019 and briefly held the world 10,000m record in June, said she looked forward to tackling the feat and wanted to challenge herself over her favourite distances.
“For me it is crucial to follow my heart,” she said. “Doing that is far more important than gold medals. That keeps me motivated and it keeps me enjoying this beautiful sport.”
Hassan, who was coached by Alberto Salazar before the Cuban-born American who masterminded Mo Farah’s domination of long-distance running received a doping ban in 2019, has been at times a controversial figure with the British athlete Laura Muir saying a “cloud” hung over her win in Doha.
Hassan, who has already raced once on Friday night, will race again twice on Monday, then on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. She is regarded as the favourite with the bookies in the 5,000m, and the second favourite in the 1500m and 10,000m.
Her incredible attempt also follows in the footsteps of the legendary Finnish racer Pavel Nurmi, who made history at the Paris 1924 Games by winning five gold medals in four days.
Nurmi won the 1500m, 5,000m, 3,000m team event and two cross-country events but Finnish officials feared for his health and refused to let him race the 10,000m. When he returned home, Nurmi then set a 10,000m world record that lasted 13 years – before going on to win gold in that event at the 1928 Olympics.