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The Women’s Olympic 1500 Meters Predictions Hinge on One Factor: Will Sifan Hassan Race?

The race will have plenty of talented athletes with fresh legs that could foil Hassan’s triple gold attempt.

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The women’s 1500 meters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is difficult to analyze. The dynamics and the outcome are largely going to be determined by whether Sifan Hassan decides to compete in the event.

Hassan, the Ethiopian-born distance ace who represents the Netherlands, competed in the 5,000 meters already this week, advancing to the final by winning her heat in 14:47.89. She’s also entered in the 1500 meters and the 10,000 meters and said on Friday in Japan that she still hadn’t decided if she’ll race all three events.

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If Hassan lines up in the 1500 meters, she’s committing to racing six times in nine days. Of course, at the 2019 world championships she pulled off two victories in the 1500 and the 10,000 meters. Could she do it in Tokyo, too, to win her first medals at the Games? Possibly. But it won’t be a breeze. Her schedule (in Eastern time) will look like this:

  • 6 a.m. July 30: 5,000 meter prelim
  • 8:35 p.m. August 1: 1500 meter first round
  • 7:35 a.m. August 2: 5,000-meter final
  • 6 a.m. August 4: 1500-meter semifinal
  • 8:50 a.m. on August 6: 1500-meter final
  • 6:45 a.m. on August 7: 10,000-meter final

Hassan will face Faith Kipyegon, the defending Olympic champion in the 1500 meters, who earlier this month ran 3:51.07 at the Monaco Diamond League meet—it was the fourth-fastest time in history, indicating that the Kenyan’s fitness is peaking at just the right time. Hassan’s best is 3:51.95, from the 2019 world championships, though she’s focused mostly on the 5,000 meters this season.

Laura Muir of Great Britain is also competing, bringing in a season best of 3:55.59, which she ran in June. Freweyni Gebreezibeher Hailu of Ethiopia ran 3:56.28 in Monaco this month.

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Team USA’s medal hopes rest with Elle Purrier St. Pierre, who won the Olympic Trials in a personal best of 3:58.03. The U.S. will also be represented by Cory McGee (4:00.67) and Heather MacLean (4:02.09). All three are first-time Olympians.

The 1500 meters can often be strategic affairs, which play to different strengths for different athletes and can allow for those who aren’t as fast on paper to have a shot to advance. Should Hassan line up, the race typically becomes less tactical because she has extreme endurance and often pushes the pace from the start.

So what will happen in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics women’s 1500 meters? Yeah, it really all depends.

You can watch the first round at 8:35 p.m. Eastern on August 1; the semifinal round at 6 a.m. on August 4; and the final at 8:50 a.m. on August 6.

2021 Olympics Live Updates: Catch all the latest moments and results here!