Olympics-Athletics-Triple trouble? Hassan's agenda raises eyebrows

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Diamond League - Rome/Florence - 2021 Pietro Mennea Golden Gala

By Amy Tennery

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sifan Hassan is poised to tackle a rare Olympic treble in the 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 metres in Tokyo, with her name entered in all three events as of Tuesday to set up a gruelling schedule in her bid for a first Games medal.

While the 28-year-old Dutchwoman could still pull out of one of them, the mere prospect of seeing her attempt all three turned heads this week, after her historic double gold in the 1,500 metres and 10,000 metres at the 2019 world championships.

"It’s a lot, but seems doable for her," four-times Olympic sprint gold medallist Michael Johnson Tweeted. "Not sure about gold in all three though."

Hassan's agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hassan has become almost accustomed to beating the odds, setting a world record 4:12.33 in the mile in 2019, little more than a decade after she left Ethiopia as a 15-year-old refugee and moved to the Netherlands.

She began running at a high level after taking a class in the Netherlands in 2011, finishing her first 1,500 metres race in 4:20 and running a half marathon a couple days later in roughly an hour and 17 minutes.

She's set lofty goals ever since.

"From day one I believed I am going to run (the) 1,500-metre (race) under 3:50 - I don't know why I believed that, I don't know why I say that," Hassan told reporters in the lead-up to the Games. "I just believed that it is possible."

But Hassan won't just be chasing times in Tokyo - she'll have plenty of competition to watch out for too.

In the 1,500 metres, there's Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, the reigning Olympic champion who beat her at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in a world-leading time of 3:51.07.

And in the 10,000 metres, Hassan has a chance to take revenge on Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, who wiped out her world record last month after it had stood for only two days.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery, editing by Ed Osmond)