DOHA, Qatar, Oct 6 – Sifan Hassan made light of the doping ban handed to her coach Alberto Salazar to complete an historic 1500/10,000 metres double at the World Athletics Championships on Saturday as a host of stars celebrated golden repeat performances.
Hassan destroyed the 1500 metres championship record — which had stood for 16 years — in what she admitted had been a “tough week” due to Salazar’s four-year ban being announced in midweek.
The 26-year-old Ethiopia-born Dutch athlete ripped off her name plate and took off on a barefoot victory lap, brandishing the Netherlands flag.
“I did not discuss a strategy as I had no one to discuss it with,” said Hassan.
“It was a very tough week and had a lot of things in my head but I have a good manager and he really supported me.
She added: “I show the world I am a clean athlete.”
Both Hellen Obiri of Kenya and Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas retained their women’s 5,000m and triple jump titles respectively.
Rojas said the parlous state of her country had been her motivation.
Venezuela is suffering from a punishing economic crisis and a political standoff between President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government and the National Assembly led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.
“I think what happens in my country is why I want to make it proud and inspire the whole country and the next generation,” said the 23-year-old.
Joe Kovacs of the United States added a second shot put title — having won in 2015 — winning in a thriller with his last throw of 22.91 metres in front of Ashley his wife, who is also his coach.
All three medallists — Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and 2017 champion Tomas Walsh taking silver and bronze respectively — bettered the 32-year-old championship record of Werner Gunther.
“These guys probably thought I could only throw angry but it is the first time I threw with a smile on my face,” said Kovacs, paying tribute to his wife and the change in his mentality since getting married.
– ‘Punch something’ –
By contrast American Justin Gatlin and Jamaican sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are old hands at the championships and both celebrated 4x100m relay gold.
Astonishingly two-time 100m men’s world champion Gatlin — also 200m world champion in 2005 — has had to wait until he was 37 to secure one.
“Gold means so much to me, probably a lot more than some I have won individually. It has eluded me throughout my career from college onwards,” said Gatlin.
“I take my hat off to my team-mates. They broke that curse tonight of the USA dropping the baton and I really appreciate them giving me the gift today.”
Fraser-Pryce added the relay title — her fourth in the event — to the 100m individual gold and her ninth overall in the history of the championships.
The 32-year-old was full of praise for her trio of less experienced team-mates.
“It is a pleasure to be amongst the younger athletes and seeing them come out and winning speaks volumes for the team,” said Fraser-Pryce.
Sunday’s climax to the championship will be missing several world and Olympic champions after they failed to come through qualifying.
Brianna McNeal did not even make it over the first hurdle as the 2016 Olympic 100 metres hurdler was called for a false start and left the track in tears.
Germany’s javelin Olympic champion Thomas Rohler also departed the Khalifa Stadium in tears having fallen short of the top 12 who qualified for the final.
American long jump great Brittney Reese is too seasoned a performer to lapse into tears but the 2012 Olympic champion and defending title holder came up short in her event.
“I just need to go punch something, I’ll be okay,” said the 33-year-old quadruple outdoor world champion.