- On Friday, July 12, Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands broke the women’s mile world record at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco by running a time of 4:12.33.
- The previous record, set by Svetlana Masterkova of Russia, had stood for 23 years.
- There were also four national records set at the race, which was called the “Brave Like Gabe” mile in honor of late middle-distance star Gabe Grunewald. Nine of the 12 finishers set personal bests, too.
In a completely dominant performance, Sifan Hassan made history in the women’s mile by running a world record of 4:12.33 at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco on Friday.
Hassan, 26, improved on the previous world record of 4:12.56 set by Russian Olympic champion Svetlana Masterkova in 1996.
“I knew I could run fast, but the first 800 was a bit slow, so after that I wasn’t thinking it would be a world record. When I crossed the line I was so surprised,” Hassan told race organizers afterwards.
The 1500-meter world indoor champion, who trains with the Nike Oregon Project and competes internationally for the Netherlands, broke the previous record by two-tenths of a second in the “Brave Like Gabe” women’s mile. The race was named in honor of middle-distance star Gabe Grunewald, who battled cancer for 10 years until she passed away on June 11.
From the gun, Hassan followed the pacesetter, who led the field through the first 400 meters in 1:04.26. Before stepping off the track around the 900-meter mark, the rabbit brought the competitors through 800 meters in 2:08.20. After the pacesetter stepped away, Hassan took over up front.
By 1200 meters, Hassan had a slight lead over Gudaf Tsegay as the duo soared through the split in 3:10. According to the official race analysis, Hassan crossed the 1500-meter mark in 3:55.4, which is slightly faster than her official 1500-meter personal best of 3:55.93. With each step in the bell lap, Hassan pulled farther and farther ahead of her competitors until she found herself chasing the clock on the homestretch.
With impressive closing speed that brought her over the last lap in 62 seconds, Hassan secured her place as the world record-holder in the distance, a record which stood for 23 years. The performance was a promising effort for the Dutch middle-distance star ahead of the 2019 IAAF World Championships, which begin on September 27 in Doha, Qatar.
“After you run the last 400 like that, and set a world record, it gives me so much confidence over 5,000 meters,” Hassan told race organizers. “I want to double over 1500 [meters] and 5,000 [meters] in Doha, and the way I finished the last 400 there, it’s amazing—to run a world record the way I did makes me so happy!”
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Prior to Friday, Hassan’s personal best in the mile was 4:14.71, a mark that she set at the 2018 Diamond League meeting in London. In addition to the mile world record, Hassan has executed several breakthroughs this season, including a world lead and national record at the Prefontaine Classic, where she won the 3,000 meters in 8:18.49.
Hassan wasn’t the only runner to achieve a breakthrough in Monaco. Runner-up Laura Weightman of Great Britain ran a personal best of 4:17.60 and Gabriela Debues-Stafford ran a Canadian national record of 4:17.87 for third place.
Two more national records fell when Rababe Arafi of Morocco finished fifth in 4:18.42 and Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda closed for seventh in 4:18.65. The lone American in the field, Rachel Schneider, also earned a massive personal best when she finished ninth in 4:20.91, a seven-second improvement. In all,nine of the 12 finishers set personal bests.
Contributing Writer Taylor Dutch is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas.