Sifan Hassan pulled out a dramatic sprint finish to win the London Marathon in her debut at the distance, smashing the Dutch record in the process.
The 30-year-old crossed the line in 2 hours 18 minutes and 33 seconds, more than four minutes faster than the old women’s record set by Nienke Brinkman last year.
‘I don’t know what to say. It’s like a dream,’ Hassan told NOS minutes after kicking away from Alemu Megertu of Ethiopia and Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya in the finishing stretch.
Her winning time was well inside the qualifying mark for next year’s Olympics in Paris, where she will start as one of the favourites.
The win was all the more remarkable as the double Olympic champion looked to be on the brink of pulling out after an hour of the race. She stopped just after 19 kilometres, stretched and walked for a few strides as she struggled with a sore hip, but the pain wore off and she was able to rejoin the main pack.
‘I did a 20km run 10 days ago and I felt pain in my hip and my upper legs. Here in London it felt really hard for the first 5km.
‘I thought I’d run 20 or 21km. Then I got to 25km. The pain changed. At 30km things felt a lot better. My breathing was better too. But I wasn’t thinking about winning.’
Hassan also had to prepare for the marathon during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month which finished just a few days before the race, meaning she had to combine training with fasting.
‘I was so scared beforehand, but I finished the race and I won. I don’t know what I’ve done,’ she said.
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