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Hassan eyes hat-trick of Majors wins

As far as the marathon is concerned, everything Sifan Hassan touches turns to gold. So far.

The 31-year-old Dutch star exploded onto the marathon scene last spring with a storybook victory in London.

In a race that swayed from the ridiculous to the sublime, Hassan crammed in a career’s worth of drama into two hours and 20 minutes. It began with a sore hip which she opted to stop and stretch, losing 28 seconds to the leading pack, before fighting her way back into contention.

Her marathon naivety then almost resulted in a collision with a race motorbike as she careered across the road to snatch a drink in the late miles.

The look on her face as she took the winning tape suggested she was in as much disbelief as those of us who had watched it happen.

Hassan’s second appearance was a far less hectic experience but no less impressive, as she steamed around Chicago’s streets to clock the second fastest time in history, 2:13:44.

Tokyo represents a chance to make it three wins from three different AbbottWMM starts. It also affords her time to assess her plans for the summer once Tokyo is completed.

Will Hassan run the Olympic marathon?

Dare she go for an Olympic track and marathon combo that hasn’t been seen since the days of Emil Zatopek? It must be a tempting prospect. She is already the only athlete to medal in the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000m in one Games. There are new worlds to conquer.

Given what she achieved in 2023 (two Majors and two track medals at the World Championships inside seven months), we know she has the range. It will all be down to whether she and her team believe her powers of recovery will give her the chance.

Back to the job at hand. The women’s field in Tokyo will assure Hassan of a tough day at the office if she is to seal her third Majors win. Nine women under 2:20 will accompany her on the journey to the Imperial Palace.

World champion Amane Beriso boasts a personal best of 2:14:58 and last year’s Tokyo champion Rosemary Wanjiru knows these streets well in her adopted home town.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter has also taken the tape in Tokyo (2020), and is never out of the argument without a fight.

There are already three Japanese women with the qualifying standard to represent their marathon-obsessed nation at this summer’s marathon in Paris, but Sunday offers a chance for Yuki Yoshikawa to usurp one of them. It could be a tall order with her current PB standing at 2:25:20.

Hitomi Niiya is also in the field having earned the standard in Houston in January 2023 (2:19:24), so there will be little home-grown company for Yoshikawa if she is going to chase down the third-placed athlete in the standings, Mizuki Matsuda, who ran 2:21:44 in Tokyo last year.

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