In their first competition since their remarkable performances at the Russian Indoor Championships last month, Yelena Sobeleva and Yuliya Chizenko advanced easily to tomorrow's finals, setting up the pair's highly anticipated meeting with Bahraini Maryam Yusef Jamal.
Sobeleva, who lowered the World Indoor record* to 3:58.28, bided her time in the slower of the two heats, moving to the front in the final 100 metres to finish second in 4:14.51, just behind Maria Martins of France (4:14.34.) Corina Dumbravean, Romania’s 21-year-old European Under-23 champion, took the third automatic qualifying spot in 4:14.76.
Chizhenko, whose 4:01.26 at the Russian nationals propelled her to the number six spot all-time, controlled her own destiny in the first heat, winning in 4:09.92, just one one-hundredth ahead of Jamal. The young Bahraini, the breakout middle distance star of 2005, has a 4:01.82 to her credit this season and looked extremely fit.
“I knew I had to be in the top three today, which is why I kept the entire race under control,’ said Chizhenko, who lost the silver medal at last summer’s World Championships in Helsinki after obstructing Jamal. “Tomorrow the situation in the final will be more difficult and interesting.”
Iryna Lischynska won the blanket finish tussle for the final automatic spot, clocking 4:10.12. Hind Dehiba (4:10.73) of France, American Treniere Clement (4:11.64) and Nahida Touhami (4:12.09) of Algeria all advanced to tomorrow’s final.
Of the entire field of nine, none were in the final in Budapest two years ago.
*World Indoor record pending ratification