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.”

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