The Netherlands proved the maxim of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as two of its most famed athletes, Sifan Hassan and Femke Bol, stumbled metres from the finish line with World Championship gold within their grasp on Saturday.
Both had entertained hopes of several titles in Budapest, but Hassan came to grief 20 metres from the end of the 10,000 metres to gift victory to Ethiopian rival Gudaf Tsegay.
As Tsegay crossed back over the line and embraced her, the Ethiopia-born Hassan smiled despite the realisation her dreams of an unprecedented 10/5,000m and 1500m treble had ended.
“I am keeping my smile but it is really hard,” said Hassan.
“I am very disappointed. This is sport, these things happen. I just had a bad moment.”
Just minutes later, Bol saw victory in the 4x400m mixed relay slip from her grasp as, pressured by American Alexis Holmes, she stumbled and fell with the line begging.
She did stagger over the line but without the all-important baton and, distraught, was consoled by her teammates. The Americans took gold in a world record of 3 minutes 08.80 seconds.
Bol, like Hassan, will have to pick herself up as she is the hot favourite in the absence of Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone for the 400m hurdles and will also be in the women’s 4x400 relay team.
“I do not know what happened,” said Bol. “It has never happened to me before. I cramped towards the finish line, I was pushing, pushing, pushing.”
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