From Refugee to World Record Holder: Why Sifan Hassan’s Victory Means so Much

Source: Instagram

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Mary Nuba, a South Sudanese refugee who defied the odds and is making a name for herself on the netball arena. Today, I have another inspiration for you: Ethiopian-born athlete Sifan Hassan, who just set a new record for the women’s one-hour run.

At the age of 15, Hassan relocated from Ethiopia to Netherlands as a refugee. There, she did not immediately settle in one place, but after starting her nursing studies, she noticed that she could pursue her studies and passion at the same time.

Her move to the National Training Centre in Papendal turned out to be a good one as it was followed with a series of wins.

Hassan won the 1500-metre race at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting, finished second in the Lausanne Diamond League, and took third place in Stockholm. She has participated in the 800-, 1500- and 3000-metre races.

When Hassan got a Dutch passport in 2013, she travelled to the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, competing in the U23 category, and won her first European title.

Source: Instagram

On the Sept. 4, Hassan broke the 12-year record, which was set by Ethiopian athlete Dire Tune Arissi. In 2008, Arissi covered a distance of 18,517 kilometres in 60 minutes. Hassan smashed this record by a whopping 413 metres, running 18,930 kilometres in 60 minutes in the Belgian capital Brussels.

The rare one-hour run involves competitors running and trying to cover as much distance as possible in an hour. Hassan has added this record to her current titles, which include being the reigning 1500- and 10000-metre champion.

What I particularly liked was her speech on France24 news,

“At the start I didn’t feel so good, but after 30 minutes, every minute was easy. I never thought I’d run so far!”

The same applies to every business, project or program you want to start. It is never easy in the beginning, but if you keep running, you will get there.

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