—- Athletes generally shy away from making pre-race predictions, Sifan Hassan among them. But the Dutch middle distance star made an exception on the eve of Friday’s Herculis EBS IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco, declaring that she was intending to run “three or four seconds” faster than her previous mile lifetime best.

Hassan came up a little short in that prediction, but still crossed the line as the fastest miler of all time, clocking 4:12.33 to break a record which had stood for 23 years.

“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.”

Indeed, her opening 800m of 2:08.5 was nearly a second-and-a-half outside of the pace that propelled Svetlana Masterkova to her 4:12.56 record in Zurich in 1996. But Hassan forged on. Energised by the pulsating cheers of the near-capacity crowd at Stade Louis II, Hassan ran alone from about 1000 metres onwards, covering the final 800m in under 2:01 and the final 400m in just a few ticks over 60 seconds.

Beaming with delight, Hassan fell to the track, shocked by her stellar achievement. “It was a beautiful last lap with the crowd supporting me.”

Race report: Hassan breaks women’s mile world record with 4:12.33 run in Monaco


Sifan Hassan
Born 1 January 1993

Born in Adama, Ethiopia, in 1993, Hassan left her homeland as a refugee in 2008, arriving in the Netherlands at age 15. She began running soon thereafter and less than a decade later had produced a record of extraordinary range that would rank her among the finest middle and long distance runners of all-time.

Her rise into the global ranks began in December 2013 with her European U23 cross country title, one month after gaining Dutch citizenship. Her appearances on continental and global podiums haven’t stopped since.

The following July she signalled herself as a rising 1500m force, clocking 3:57.00 to win the Paris leg of the IAAF Diamond League. Her big stage breakthrough came a month later at the 2014 European Championships in Zurich where she took gold in the 1500m and silver in the 5000m.

In 2015, she took the European indoor 1500m title and bronze over the distance at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Her first global title came at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland where she raced to victory in the 1500m. That remains her only global gold. Hasan finished fifth in the Olympic 1500m final in Rio, and fifth again at the World Championships in London.

In 2018 she improved her proficiency over longer distances, clocking 14:22.34 to break the European 5000m record in Rabat in July and 1:05:15 for the half marathon in Copenhagen in September, another Area record. That came just a month after she took the European 5000m title and eight days after she sped to an 8:27.50 3000m victory at the Continental Cup in Ostrava, the fastest time in the world that season.

Her momentum continued in 2019. In her first race of the year, she set a world record for 5km on the road, clocking 14:44 on 17 February in Monaco. On 30 June, she broke the European 3000m record at the Prefontaine Classic in Stanford, California, clocking 8:18.48, the fastest time in the world since 1993. Twelve days later, she improved her own national 1500m record in Rabat, clocking 3:55.93. She lowered that to 3:55.30 en route to her world record mile run on Friday night.

Personal bests

800m: 1:56.81 (2017)
1000m: 2:34.68 (2015)
1500m: 3:55.30 (2019)
Mile: 4:12.33 (2019) World record*
3000m: 8:18.49 (2019) Area record
5000m: 14:22.34 (2018) Area record
10,000m: 31:18.12 (2019)
5km: 14:44 (2019) World record
Half marathon: 1:05:15 (2018) Area record

World all-time women’s mile top 10

4:12.33 Sifan Hassan (NED), Monaco, 12 Jul 2019
4:12.56 Svetlana Masterkova (RUS), Zürich, 14 Aug 1996
4:14.30 Genzebe Dibaba (ETH), Rovereto, 06 Sep 2016
4:15.61 Paula Ivan (ROU), Nice, 10 Jul 1989
4:15.8h Natalya Artymova (URS), Leningrad, 05 Aug 1984
4:16.14 Gudaf Tsegay (ETH), London, 22 Jul 2018
4:16.15 Hellen Obiri (KEN), London, 22 Jul 2018
4:16.71 Mary Slaney (USA), Zürich, 21 Aug 1985
4:16.71 Faith Kipyegon (KEN), Brussels, 11 Sep 2015
4:17.25 Sonia O’Sullivan (IRL), Oslo, 22 Jul 1994

Women’s mile world record progression

4:29.5h Paola Cacchi (ITA), Viareggio, 8 Aug 1973
4:23.8h Natalia Marasescu (ROU), Bucuresti, 21 May 1977
4:22.1h Natalia Marasescu (ROU), Auckland, 27 Jan 1979
4:21.7h Mary Decker (USA), Auckland, 26 Jan 1980
4:20.89 Lyudmila Velelkova (URS), Bologna, 12 Sep 1981
4:18.08 Mary (Decker) Tabb (USA), Paris, 9 Jul 1982
4:17.44 Maricica Puica (ROU), Rieti, 16 Sep 1982
4:16.71 Mary (Decker Tabb) Slaney (USA), Zürich, 21 Aug 1985
4:15.61 Paula Ivan (ROU), Nice, 10 Jul 1989
4:12.56 Svetlana Masterkova (RUS), Zürich, 14 Aug 1996
4:12.33 Sifan Hassan (NED), Monaco, 12 Jul 2019

*pending the usual ratification procedures