Before marathon triumph, Sifan Hassan already had Olympic legend on her mind

Sifan Hassan

Sifan Hassan, already an Olympic legend on the track, spent early Sunday morning in London crying and vomiting at the prospect of running 26.2 miles on the roads. By midday, she had not just accomplished her goal of finishing her first marathon, but she won it.

Since, Hassan has been highlighted on news programs and front pages around the world. The track star who said publicly that she was scared of the marathon, signed up anyway and won despite stopping multiple times to stretch her left leg (that she forgot to tape up that morning) and nearly getting run over by a motorbike in a dash to a drinks table late in the race.

Hassan had not practiced grabbing water bottles on long runs in the last month of her training, because she was observing Ramadan, which calls for abstaining from food and water from dawn until dusk.

The logical follow-up question: what’s next?

“We have to keep her focused on one thing at a time, but that’s impossible with her,” her American coach, Tim Rowberry, told Dutch broadcaster NOS while Hassan did the press rounds on Sunday. “Whatever makes her excited, I try to help her chase after that and try to balance everything at once.”

Rowberry said that, before Sunday’s race, he and Hassan discussed a man who ran the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon at one Olympics.

Rowberry couldn’t remember the athlete’s name off the top of his head, but he was presumably referring to Emil Zátopek, the Czech who won the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon in an eight-day stretch at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Sixteen others ran those three distances at one Olympics (all men and the last in 1984), according to Bill Mallon of, but Zátopek remains the lone one to earn a medal in all three at one Games, the three longest running events on the program.

The 2024 Paris Olympic schedule:

Aug. 2: 5000m heats
Aug. 5: 5000m final
Aug. 6: 1500m heats
Aug. 8: 1500m semifinals
Aug. 9: 10,000m final
Aug. 10: 1500m final
Aug. 11: Marathon

“I guess that’s what’s important is that we think that’s possible to do 5K, 10K, marathon, but she loves the 1500m, she loves other races, and I don’t see her trying to give that up, either,” said Rowberry, who once sang with the Smashing Pumpkins on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. “So it’s going to be a really big question, and we might make it the same as Tokyo where we have to make a decision at the last moment.”

Two years ago, Hassan waited until after her first race of the Tokyo Olympics — a 5000m heat — to publicly say that she planned to contest the 1500, 5000m and 10,000m at those Games.

“For me it is crucial to follow my heart,” she said in a press release announcing that decision. “Doing that is far more important than gold medals.”

Over nine days in Tokyo, Hassan raced six times combining heats and finals, totaling 24,500 meters (just over 15 miles).

She won the 5000m and 10,000m and in between took bronze in the 1500m, becoming the second woman to earn a medal in three individual track races at one Olympics. The other was also a Dutchwoman: Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won the 100m, 200m and the 80m hurdles in 1948.

Hassan also pulled off an unprecedented feat in 2019. She became the first person to win the 1500m and the 10,000m at one world championships. The 1500m and the 5000m overlapped, and she chose the shorter distance, which created the unique double.

The month after those worlds, she finished second in a half marathon.

Hassan, born in Ethiopia, came to the Netherlands as a 15-year-old refugee in 2008. She has preferred not to speak about her childhood in Ethiopia.

She joined a local running club to meet people in her new country, though she had little experience with the sport, and began signing up for local races. An early coach said she “was not anything special” until 2013, the year she obtained Dutch citizenship. By 2014, she was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 1500m.

Now 30 years old, Hassan has become one of the greatest distance runners in history, and arguably the most versatile at the highest level.

She plans to return to the track for August’s world championships in Budapest. Rowberry said that Hassan will definitely run at least one track race at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Beyond that, he couldn’t predict.

“I love the marathon. I love the track also,” Hassan said Sunday afternoon. “I want to be everywhere.”

She did not mention Zátopek or chasing any more history in 2024. She was satisfied having accomplished her goal on that day: running 26.2 miles.

“I don’t need to become the greatest,” she said. “I’m fine the way I am.”

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Ryan Crouser breaks world record in shot put at Los Angeles Grand Prix


Two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser registered one of the greatest performances in track and field history, breaking his world record and throwing three of the six farthest shot puts of all time at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday.

Crouser unleashed throws of 23.56 meters, 23.31 and 23.23 at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. His previous world record from the Tokyo Olympic Trials was 23.37. He now owns the top four throws in history, and the 23.23 is tied for the fifth-best throw in history.

“The best thing is I’m still on high volume [training], heavy throws in the ring and heavy weights in the weight room, so we’re just starting to work in some speed,” the 6-foot-7 Crouser, who is perfecting a new technique coined the “Crouser slide,” told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Sha’Carri Richardson won her 100m heat in 10.90 seconds into a slight headwind, then did not start the final about 90 minutes later due to cramping, Johnson said. Richardson is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m in 2023 (10.76) and No. 2 in the 200m (22.07).

Jamaican Ackeem Blake won the men’s 100m in a personal best 9.89 seconds. He now ranks third in the world this year behind Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala and American Fred Kerley, who meet in the Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco on Sunday (2-4 p.m. ET, CNBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock).

The next major meet is the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in early July, when the top three in most individual events qualify for August’s world championships.

Richardson will bid to make her first global championships team, two years after having her Olympic Trials win stripped for testing positive for marijuana and one year after being eliminated in the first round of the 100m at USATF Outdoors.

LA GRAND PRIX: Full Results

Also Saturday, Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.31, the fastest time ever this early in a year. Nigerian Tobi Amusan, who at last July’s worlds lowered the world record to 12.12, was eighth in the eight-woman field in 12.69.

Maggie Ewen upset world champion Chase Ealey in the shot put by throwing 20.45 meters, upping her personal best by more than three feet. Ewen went from 12th-best in American history to third behind 2016 Olympic champion Michelle Carter and Ealey.

Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic ran the fastest women’s 400m since the Tokyo Olympics, clocking 48.98 seconds. Paulino is the Olympic and world silver medalist. Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on a maternity break.

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy won the 800m in 1:44.75, beating a field that included most of the top Americans in the event. Notably absent was 2019 World champion Donovan Brazier, who hasn’t raced since July 20 of last year amid foot problems.

CJ Allen won the 400m hurdles in a personal best 47.91, consolidating his argument as the second-best American in the event behind Olympic and world silver medalist Rai Benjamin, who withdrew from the meet earlier this week.

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Primoz Roglic set to win Giro d’Italia over Geraint Thomas

106th Giro d'Italia 2023 - Stage 20
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Primož Roglič all but secured the Giro d’Italia title on Saturday by overtaking leader Geraint Thomas on the penultimate stage despite having a mechanical problem on the mountain time trial.

Roglič started the stage 26 seconds behind Thomas — who was trying to become the oldest Giro champion in history — but finished the route 40 seconds quicker than the British cyclist after the demanding climb of the Monte Lussari.

That saw Roglič move into the leader’s pink jersey, 14 seconds ahead of Thomas going into the race’s mainly ceremonial final stage.

Roglič was cheered on all the way by thousands of fans from just across the border to his native Slovenia. They packed the slopes of the brutal ascent up Monte Lussari, which had an elevation of more than 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

The 33-year-old Roglič celebrated at the end with his wife and son, who was wearing a replica of the pink jersey.

“Just something amazing, eh? It’s not at the end about the win itself, but about the people, and the energy here, so incredible, really moments to live and to remember,” said Roglič, who had tears in his eyes during the post-stage television interview, which he did with his son in his arms.

It will be a fourth Grand Tour victory for Roglič, who won the Spanish Vuelta three years in a row from 2019-2021

Roglič also almost won the Tour de France in 2020, when he was leading going into another mountain time trial on the penultimate stage. But that time it was Roglič who lost time and the race to compatriot Tadej Pogačar in one of the most memorable upsets in a Grand Tour in recent years.

It appeared as if the Jumbo-Visma cyclist’s hopes were evaporating again when he rode over a pothole about halfway through the brutal climb up Monte Lussari and his chain came off, meaning he had to quickly change bicycles.

His teammates and staff had their hands over their heads in disbelief.

Despite that setback, Roglič — who had been 16 seconds ahead of Thomas at the previous intermediate time check — went on to increase his advantage.

“I dropped the chain, I mean it’s part of it,” he said. “But I got started again and I just went … I had the legs, the people gave me extra (energy).”

The 33-year-old Roglič won the stage ahead of Thomas. Joao Almeida was third, 42 seconds slower.

For Thomas, his bad luck at the Giro continued. In 2017, he was involved in a crash caused by a police motorbike, and three years later he fractured his hip after a drinks bottle became lodged under his wheel – being forced to abandon both times.

Thomas turned 37 on Thursday. The Ineos Grenadiers cyclist had seemed poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history — beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

“I could feel my legs going about a kilometer and a half from the top. I just didn’t feel I had that real grunt,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s nice to lose by that much rather than a second or two, because that would be worse I think.

“At least he smashed me and to be honest Primoz deserves that. He had a mechanical as well, still put 40 seconds into me so chapeau to him. If you’d told me this back in (February), March, I would have bit your hand off but now I’m devastated.”

Thomas and Roglič exchanged fist bumps as they waited their turn to ride down the ramp at the start of the 11.6-mile time trial.

The Giro will finish in Rome on Sunday, with 10 laps of a seven-mile circuit through the streets of the capital, taking in many of its historic sites.

“One more day to go, one more focus, because I think the lap is quite hard, technical. So it’s not over til it’s finished,” Roglič said. “But looks good, voila.”

The route will pass by places such as the Altare della Patria, the Capitoline Hill, the Circus Maximus and finish at the Imperial Forums, in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The Tour de France starts July 1, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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