Sifan Hassan Runs 29:36 To Shatter Paula Radcliffe’s 30:01 European Record

Hassan shatters European 10,000m record with 29:36.67 in Hengelo

(World Athletics) — Sifan Hassan smashed the European 10,000m record at the FBK After Summer Competition in Hengelo, Netherlands, on Saturday (10).

Running alone for more than half the race, the 27-year-old Dutchwoman (born in Adama, Oromia, Ethiopia) clocked 29:36.67 to become the fourth fastest woman in history for the distance. In doing so, she sent a clear indication of the form she’ll be bringing to the start line at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland, seven days from now where she’ll be among the strong favourites.

Hassan, the world 1500m and 10,000m champion, illustrated world record ambitions in the early stages, shadowing pace-setter Laura Wightman as she clipped off eight successive sub-71-second laps until Hassan took over to close the ninth lap in 70.23, until that point, the fastest of the afternoon.

But instead of easing, she upped the tempo over the next several laps, running well ahead of the Wavelight technology red lights which were operating at 29:22.5 pace. She powered on with laps of 68.98 – the fastest of the race – 70.28 and then a 69.61 just after reaching the halfway point in 14:38. An assault on Almaz Ayana’s 29:17.45 world record, set at the Olympic Games four years ago, was on.

But as her tempo increased, so did the punch of the steady rain as the temperature, 11C at the meeting’s start about an hour earlier, descended to 8C. The impact of those conditions, coupled with the demanding pace, soon began to take their toll.

Hassan covered the 13th lap in 70.70 seconds, then, with occasional grimaces appearing, covered laps 14 and 15 in 71.36 and 71.56 before the wave’s green lights, indicating a pace outside of the record, caught her on lap 16.

She forged on, lapping the field on the 21st lap before eventually reaching the line in 29:36.67, well under the European record of 30:01.09 set by Paula Radcliffe at the 2002 European Championships – when Hassan was just nine years old. It was also well under her 30:17.62 personal best which propelled her to the world title last year. Hassan now holds world records at one mile and one hour and European records at 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m and the half marathon.

“I am so happy to have run a new European record, especially a record that has stood for so long by such a strong athlete as Paula,” Hassan said.

“It was a very difficult race today as it was so cold and wet. I was feeling really strong today and wished for a bit better conditions, but this record gives me a lot of confidence.”

Tsehay Gemechu (age 21 years) of Ethiopia was second in 30:57.73.

The three-race meeting at Hengelo’s FBK Stadium, set up by the management firm Global Sport Communication to provide a few of their athletes with one final opportunity for a fast time on the track this year, began with a women’s 1000m race featuring Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon.

The Kenyan won handily but with the race dampened by the wet and chilly conditions, her third assault this season on Svetlana Masterkova’s 2:28.98 world record never quite fully materialised. She clocked 2:32.82, well behind the 2:29.15 and 2:29.92 efforts she produced at the Monaco and Brussels legs of the Wanda Diamond League earlier this season.

Winny Nanyondo of Uganda was distant a second, clocking 2:40.50.

A men’s 5000m race, featuring Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha and Australian Stewart McSweyn, followed. Kejelcha, who took firm command by the midway point, took the victory in 13:12.84 with McSweyn following in 13:16.05.


Introducing Tsehay Gemechu for the first time on this website:

Tsehay Gemechu (age 21 years) of Ethiopia finished 10,000m second in 30:57.73 following Sifan Hassan on October 10, 2020 in Hengelo, Netherlands.

(NN Running Team) — Tsehay was one of the quiet success stories in the NN Running Team last year, finishing fourth in 5000m at the World Championships, sixth at the World Cross Country Championships and setting a course record at the New Delhi Half Marathon. We chat to the versatile 21-year-old to find out more of her  ascendency in the sport.

Inspired by Tirunesh

Raised the second eldest of four siblings on a large farm in the village of Enkolbe in the Arsi zone of the Oromia region, Tsehay recalls developing a strong endurance background by running 12km a day to and from school.

Finishing “first or second” at her first ever running race over 3000m at primary school encouraged Tsehay to pursue athletics more seriously.

“After that performance and also watching Tirunesh Dibaba (the three-time Olympic champion who coincidentally also hails from Arsi zone), I thought I’d like to run more often.”

Football fan

Athletics has always been the number 1 passion of the amiable Tsehay but she also likes watching football. She is a fan of both Premier League teams Arsenal and Chelsea and when she was younger she was a big admirer of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and his Blues’ team-mate midfielder Frank Lampard.

Range of qualities

Boasting good natural speed, she caught the eye of club recruiters and at the age of “14 or 15” she joined the Muge Cement club, where she continued her athletics evolution.

Later moving to Addis Ababa in 2016 she joined the training group of her current coach, Tessema Abshero, who is hugely impressed by her breadth of qualities as both an athlete and a human.

“I have many athletes in my training group including my brother (Ayele Abshero) but Tsehay’s greatest quality is her nice personality,” explains Tessema. “If I give her a training programme and ask her to run at a four-minute per kilometre pace she will run at a four-minute per kilometre pace.”

“She also has good speed and power and a good relationship with all the other athletes in the group.”

International first

Tsehay made her international debut in April, 2017, finishing seventh in 33:07 over 10km in Paderborn, Germany.

“I didn’t have any international experience and at first everything was hard,” recalls Tsehay. “I missed home a little, but it was my first international competition and a good experience for me.”

Indian breakthrough

In 2018 she gained more international exposure running a series of 10km races in Europe, which included a victory in 31:53 in Wierden, and a second place finish behind Kenyan Agnes Tirop, the 2015 World Cross Country champion, in Tilburg in a personal best of 31:07.

Yet it was her performance at the New Delhi Half Marathon in October that year where Tsehay first announced herself as a future star with a stunning debut performance over the 21.1km distance. Defeating not only her childhood hero, Tirunesh Dibaba who finished a distant sixth, but also outsprinting the then world half marathon record-holder, Joyciline Jepkosgei, to clinch victory in a course record 66:50 was a performance which impressed and even shocked Tsehay.

“To be honest, I hadn’t changed my training to do this race, so I was surprised that I won and ran so fast,” she says. “Beforehand, I was thinking I could run maybe 67 or 68 minutes for the half marathon because it was my debut over the distance,’ she says. “I also knew I was up against many good athletes. At 18km I felt very strong but I was very shocked to go on to win. This victory was a nice one for me.”

It was a big moment for Tessema too, who received the news of Tsehay’s performance while driving his car in Addis Ababa. “I was so shocked and excited, I momentarily lost concentration and I almost swerved off the road,” he recalls with a smile.

Variety Pack

With Tessema keen to diversify Tsehay’s skillset by developing both strength and speed through cross country, track and road she started 2019 with a bang, carving 15 seconds from Tirunesh Dibaba’s Ethiopian 10km road record in Valencia in a hugely impressive time of 30:15 on her way to victory.

The performance acted as the perfect springboard for the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, where she placed a highly respectable sixth – 32 seconds shy of a podium spot.

“There was a lot of hills and it was very muddy, but it was the same for everyone,” explains Tsehay, who is based in Sululta just outside of Addis Ababa. “I was aiming for gold but sixth place was nice.”

Track Titan

Tsehay then went on to enjoy an outstanding debut international track campaign. In Rabat, she struck gold in the 10,000m at the All Africa Games before going on to place fourth – just over a second outside of a podium spot – in the 5000m final at the World Championships in Doha by wiping more than 30 seconds from her personal best in 14:29.60

“At the beginning of the season, I wanted to run 14:30 for 5000m and under 31 minutes for 10,000m (she set a PB of 30:53.11 in Hengelo), so to achieve both was nice,” she adds.

Big ambition

Tsehay then ended her 2019 on her high, retaining her New Delhi Half Marathon title by scalping 50 seconds from her course record time to outsprint her countrywoman Yalemzerf Yehualaw to victory in 66:00.

According to Tessema, the long-term goal for Tsehay is the marathon,  where he believes she is capable of a “2:17 or 2:18 time.”

Training between 120-130km a week and entering what will be just her fourth season of her international career this year, Tsehay clearly has a lot more to give and there is no denying the scope of her future ambition.

“I would like to win World Championship and Olympic gold medals and break world records,” she adds.



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