Sifan Hassan won the 2023 London Marathon on her debut in the distance, overcoming injury and producing a sensational performance to defeat the Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir and Ethiopia’s Alemu Megertu in an astonishing sprint finish.
Hassan, the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion in Tokyo, arrived in London just hoping to complete the race as the 30-year-old made the step up from the track. “I’m going to finish the distance or the distance is going to finish me,” the Dutchwoman said, but she triumphed in one of the greatest fields ever assembled for a marathon.
Hassan’s extraordinary victory came after she pulled up and stretched out her left leg 15 miles in, falling way off the pace. The Dutchwoman reeled in the leaders with three miles to go, then surviving confusion as she made a mess of collecting a drink from a water station. Hassan recovered, even offering rival Yalemzerf Yehualaw, last year’s winner, a swig from her bottle.
Down The Mall, Hassan used her track experience to pull away from Megertu and Jepchirchir in a sprint finish, coming home in two hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds. Hassan’s training for the marathon came while also observing Ramadan, where she did not eat or drink during daylight hours.
An overwhelmed Hassan told the BBC: “London has been my dream. And now here I am, I was doubting that I could even finish. This is just amazing. I will never forget this in my whole life. I enjoyed it so much. They said the marathon would hurt but I felt really good, even after 5km and 15km! When I saw the finish line, I thought, is that really it?”
The Ethiopian-born Dutch star was not the only one to be blown away by her achievement.
"Sifan Hassan has done something that nobody could ever have expected," the former Olympic middle-distance runner Steve Cram said on the BBC. "She was struggling, she was grabbing her hip, stopping to stretch it off. She would have been dreaming of just finishing. She can hardly believe it, this might just be the best success of her life."
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