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Before lining up for the 5,000 meters at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, American Karissa Schweizer was certain it would take a sub-15 minute race to advance to the final. She was right—Schweizer was seventh in her race on Friday in Tokyo, she is on to the final round by way of her 14:51.34 finish.
Schweizer’s teammate Elise Cranny, in her first Olympics, was fifth in her heat (14:56.14) to automatically advanced as well. Rachel Schneider raced in the second heat with Cranny and placed seventh in 15:00.07, just missing the cutoff of 14:59.55, run by Canadian Andrea Seccafien.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the first race in 14:47.89, a promising start for what could be many laps around the Olympic stadium track. She’s entered in the 1500 meters and 10,000 meters as well—and still isn’t giving any hints about whether she’ll compete in all three distance events.
“I never say I’m going to compete (in) three event, I just look at (it) one by one,” Hassan said after the race. “Now I’m happy that I made it to the 5,000-meter final and the weather is so hot, and I have a lot of pressure with Covid, about everything.”
The women got a taste of the warm conditions they’ll contend with throughout the Games. It was about 81 degrees with 84 percent humidity on Friday in Tokyo.
Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, who is a two-time world champion, placed second in her race to advance to the final. She said afterward that she’d like to win the gold before moving on to road races after the Games.
“It would mean so much to me because this is the only medal that’s missing,” she said, adding that she’ll work with her Kenyan teammates Agnes Jebet Tirop and Lilian Kasait Rengeruk to make it happen. “It’s about time we won this gold again.”
Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi qualified for the final as well, but was disqualified for stepping inside the line during the race. She was the silver medalist in the 800 meters at the 2016 Rio Games, but the rules regarding testosterone levels for DSD athletes (difference of sexual development) forced her to move up in distance this year. World Athletics does not allow women who have the condition, which naturally produces more testosterone, to compete in events from 400 meters to one mile.
The 5,000 meter final is scheduled for 8:40 a.m. on August 2. Here’s a full list of qualifiers.