TOKYO — Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands could try to do something unprecedented at the Tokyo Games: win the women’s 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. To do so, she would need to run multiple heats in multiple events, including five races in six days next week if she successfully plows through the rounds.
She launched her bid at a possible triple gold on Friday night by winning her first-round heat of the 5,000 and securing a spot in Monday night’s final.
She raised her hands in muted celebration as she crossed the finish line.
“I was celebrating getting into the final,” Hassan said. “That is a lot of pressure.”
Asked whether she had decided to compete in all three events at the Olympics — something that’s been widely speculated — she said: “Not yet. I have to talk to my coach.”
Elise Cranny and Karissa Schweizer of the United States also made it through to the final.
“It was a tough field out there, and I got really pushed around,” said Schweizer, who was bleeding from her shins after getting spiked.
Hassan, 28, has emerged as one of the most dynamic and versatile runners in the world since the 2016 Olympics, when she placed fifth in the 1,500 meters while failing to advance through her qualifying heat of the 800 meters. She signaled her meteoric rise at the 2019 world championships by winning both the 1,500 and 10,000 meters. She broke the mile world record later that year.
In June, Hassan set another world record, this time in the 10,000 meters, only to have it broken two days later by Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia. Gidey is among the athletes who will challenge Hassan in Tokyo.
Hassan was coached by Alberto Salazar until 2019, when he was banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for violating rules governing banned substances. This week, Salazar was permanently barred from participating in track and field.
And in the final event of the opening day of competition at Olympic Stadium, Selemon Barega of Ethiopia held off a pair of athletes from Uganda, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo, to win gold in the men’s 10,000 meters. Barega scorched the final laps to edge out Cheptegei, the world-record holder in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, by 0.41 seconds.
Grant Fisher of the U.S. finished fifth.
It was the first time someone other than Mo Farah of Britain won the 10,000 since 2008. Farah, who doubled as the 5,000- and 10,000-meter champion at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, failed to qualify for the Tokyo Games.