MONACO, July 12 (Reuters) -Sifan Hassan of the Netherland broke the 23-year-old women’s mile world record on Friday when she clocked four minutes 12.33 seconds, beating the 4:12.56 set by Russia’s Svetlana Masterkova in Zurich in 1996.
Hassan, 26, looked to be just off the record pace in the rarely-run event but finished strongly to set the new mark.
It was a fitting performance in a race that was named as the “Brave like Gabe Mile” in honor of former American middle distance runner Gabe Grunewald, who died from cancer last month at the age of 32.
There was a tribute to Grunewald on the big screens at the stadium before the race and once it was underway, Hassan, who moved to the Netherlands after leaving Ethiopia as a refugee when she was 15, was always in control.
“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,” Hassan said. “When I crossed the line I was so surprised.
“After you run the last 400 like that, and set a world record, it gives you so much confidence over 5000m.
“I want to double over 1500 and 5,000 in Doha (at the world championships in September) and the way I finished the last 400 there, it’s amazing.”
Briton Laura Weightman was second with her own personal best (4:17.60) in a race that featured four national records and she was invited by Hassan to join her on a lap of honor.
“I’m absolutely delighted – to run 4:17 is a big PB and I’m over the moon for Sifan to break the world record,” said Weightman. “She’s an amazing athlete – it’s a special moment to share this with her.”