The 2023 World Athletics Championships saw a bizarre finish in the women’s 10,000-meter race on Saturday, with two-time Olympic gold medalist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands going from first to 11th place in the home stretch.
Hassan was leading the field as she made the final turn, but Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay quickly reached her for a neck-and-neck finish. Tsegay seemed to have the pace to win it, but all suspense was lost when Hassan fell in the last few steps to lose any chance at a medal. Tsegay won with a time of 31:27.18.
The race turned into an Ethiopian podium sweep with world record-holder Letesenbet Gidey coming in second and Ejgayehu Taye third. Hassan recovered to finish 11th.
You can see the finish here:
The sequence led to some disagreement between runners after the face, as Hassan suggested she might have been pushed by the surging Tsegay, via Reuters:
“I think I got pushed by the Ethiopian,” Hassan said. “I hope I am not crazy. I will need to look at the replay to see what exactly happened.”
Tsegay, meanwhile, suggested Hassan had actually impeded her path to the finish line:
“When Sifan tried to cross my line not far from the finish, I even did not pay attention to that,” said Tsegay, who finished with a stream of blood running from her knee down her shin.
“It happens often at different competitions because every one of us always fights for leading position. I just had in my mind how to find the way to finish first and, probably, to make historical finish for our country and to make Ethiopian people proud of us.”
A replay of the finish appears to support Tsegay’s side of the story, as Hassan can be seen stretching her arm out in front of the Ethiopian:
Hassan won gold in the 10,000 meters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as well as gold in the 5,000 meters and bronze in the 1,500 meters. She won the 1,500 meters and the 10,000 meters at the 2019 world championships in Doha, but missed out on any medals in the 2022 meet in Eugene.
Tsegay won bronze in the 5,000 meters in Tokyo and gold in the same distance in Eugene.
One Dutchwoman falling in the home stretch of a race would be an unusual story. However, Femke Bol repeated very recent history in the 4×400-meter mixed relay just a few minutes later, opening the door for the United States to win gold and notch the world record:
The Netherlands was disqualified for that race. Clearly, the Dutch have had better track meets.