Genzebe Dibaba – the star of the 2014 indoor season thus far, with her two world records* over 1500m and 3000m – took a sensible, no risk policy in the opening race.
The 23-year-old Ethiopian kept out of potential trouble in the opening few laps, settling into second-to-last position as Kenya’s Irene Jelegat and UAE’s Alia Saeed Mohammed led through 1000m in 3:07.52 and 2000m in 6:10.22.
With about one kilometre to go, Dibaba moved up on the outside on to the shoulder of Mohammed and then, with three laps remaining, she pulled clear, finishing a comfortable winner in 8:57.86.
Sifan Hassan ran a smart race too. The 21-year-old Dutchwoman, and former Ethiopian refugee who won the European Cross Country Championships under-23 title in December, eased through into the runner-up spot, clocking 8:58.50.
The Netherlands could possibly lose Elly van Hulst’s 25-year-old championship record, which has stood at 8:33.82 since 1989, in Sunday’s final but Dutch athletics has clearly found a successor to the tall, long-striding van Hulst, a two-time world indoor champion.
Defending champion Hellen Obiri progressed as runner-up in the second heat, the Kenyan clocking 8:53.31 in the slipstream of two-time 1500m world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, who prevailed in 8:53.07.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF
*subject to the usual ratification procedures