DOHA, Qatar, Oct 1 – Sifan Hassan admits she is stubborn — which should help her shrug off the suspension of her controversial coach Alberto Salazar and focus on adding the 1500 metres world title to the 10,000 gold she has already won in the Doha championships.
The 26-year-old naturalised Dutch athlete — who came to the Netherlands as a refugee from Ethiopia in her mid-teens — said she was “shocked” but her “conscience was clean” about working with the United States-based Salazar.
Hassan did say that she was “saddened by the timing” of USADA’s announcement and it “brings my championship out of balance.”
However, given the single-mindedness which she has shown throughout her life it should be business as usual once the gun goes for her heat on Thursday.
Hassan — who has never tested positive and joined 61-year-old Salazar after being reassured by the monitoring of the Portland-based group — said her stubborn streak had first surfaced aged 12 at school in Ethiopia.
“I was a particularly stubborn child,” she told iaaf.org in January.
“I loved sports class, where I always got 100 out of 100, but I did not like art class. I could not see the point in it.
“I used to question the teacher asking her ‘why am I doing this? Give me the reason.’
“I used to say. ‘I don’t like it, I’m not going to do art when I’m older.’”
– ‘Made some bad choices’ –
She is certainly capable of speaking her mind as when US President Donald Trump issued an executive order with travel bans on people from seven Muslim-majority countries shortly after his inauguration in 2017.
Hassan, who is Muslim and moved to the United States after the 2016 Olympics, said Trump’s behaviour did not reflect the majority of American people.
“It is really sad,” she told The Guardian in February 2017.
“It’s very painful. In the Netherlands it’s much better. What Trump is planning to do to Muslims, it’s not good. It’s just going to cause more problems.
“The people are so fantastic here.
“But I just wish (Trump) would look at everybody like himself.”
Hassan, who has enjoyed a remarkable year, breaking the 23-year-old mile record in Monaco in July, did not even contemplate an athletics career initially.
It was nursing instead that beckoned as a vocation for the teenager in her adopted country and she began a training course only for her career to be transformed in 2011 when she won a half-marathon in Eindhoven.
That typifies her love of adventure and trying new things although the former could occasionally land her in trouble.
“I sometimes made some bad choices that I regret,” she told iaaf.org.
“I was not a fan of mathematics, so one day I decided not to go to class and instead went hiking.
“I think I got a little carried away as I must have walked for 20 kilometres.
“It was then I realised I had missed not only the mathematics lesson but a whole day at school -– including my favourite sports lesson.
“My mother was not very happy.”