Hassan, Muir and Can to headline distance events in Berlin

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands is the overwhelming favourite for the 5000m title at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships

Four years after winning the European 1500m title in Zurich, Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands will be looking to add the 5000m title to her collection at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.

Hassan was hoping to contest both events in Berlin but the timetable is such that doubling up is a near-impossible task with both the 1500m and 5000m finals taking place on the same evening. While she won’t be able to target an unprecedented 1500/5000m double, no female athlete in championships history has still won titles in both events.

Hassan almost pulled off the double in Zurich but the 25-year-old was outsprinted for the title by Meraf Bahta from Sweden in a cagey and tactical race. Hassan is much improved at the 5000m since then, winning a bronze medal over the distance at the IAAF World Championships in London last August and lowering the European record to 14:22.34 in Rabat in July. With a 1:56.81 PB over 800m, Hassan will be redoubtable in a sprint finish.

That European record also puts Hassan at the top of the 2018 European lists by half-a-minute ahead of Brit Eilish McColgan, the only other European athlete to break 15 minutes in 2018 with 14:52.83.

Reigning champion Yasemin Can from Turkey will be attempting another 5000/10,000m double while the rapidly improving Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel will be in contention to achieve her first major championships medal. She won the European 10,000m Cup in London in May in a world-leading time of 31:33.03.

 

Home favourite Konstanze Klosterhalfen from Germany faced the same dilemma and like Hassan, the reigning European U23 1500m champion has opted to step up to the 5000m as well.

Klosterhalfen, who clocked a solo 14:51.38 PB over the distance last year, has struggled with a knee injury this season. She did win the German 1500m title in 4:06.34 in Nurnberg although she wasn’t too pleased with her effort: “I'm definitely not there where I would like to be and at the level where I want to show myself internationally,” she said after that performance.

With Hassan focusing on the 5000m, the path should be clear for Great Britain’s Laura Muir to win her first major outdoor title in the 1500m. Muir won the 1500m and 3000m titles at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia but just missed out on a medal at the World Championships in London by an agonising eight-hundredths.

Muir won a brace of medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March and leads the entry-lists with 3:58.18 ahead of teammate Laura Weightman with 4:01.76. Reigning champion Angelika Cichocka, who won one of Poland's six gold medals in Amsterdam two years ago, is also on the entry-list but she has only clocked 4:11.50 this season. There are reports that Cichocka might contest the 800m instead.

Despite the overlapping schedule, Muir had desires to contest both the 800m and 1500m before a minor Achilles tendon injury put paid to those plans. With Muir absent from the 800m, the favourites are reigning champion Nataliya Pryshchepa from Ukraine, 2016 silver medallist Renelle Lamote from France and 2012 champion Lynsey Sharp from Great Britain, all of whom have broken the two minute-barrier in 2018.

 

Germany has a reigning champion in the 3000m steeplechase and Gesa-Felicitas Krause will be looking for back-to-back titles on home soil. Krause hasn’t been in her very best form so far this season but she did take a dominant win at the German Championships in 9:34.58, winning by more than ten seconds.

The 2018 European lists are led by Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal from Norway who made a terrific comeback to the event last year after a seven-year hiatus. The former European U20 champion, who has been focusing on flat events in the meantime due to injury, clocked a solo 9:13.35 at the Norwegian Championships last year and approached that mark in her last race in the Monaco Diamond League where she clocked 9:18.36. Grovdal will also be contesting the 5000m in Berlin.

 

Luiza Gega picked up Albania’s first ever medal in European Championships history in Amsterdam two years ago. She is second on the 2018 European lists with 9:22.00 and will be looking to go one step better this time around.