Defending champion Bernard Lagat showed nimble footwork to avoid falling in his heat of the men’s 3000 metres and advance to the final on Sunday.
Five men were fighting for four places in the final 40 metres of Lagat’s second heat. A muddling early pace had left them way outside the times run in the first heat, so only the four automatic qualifiers would advance.
Trying to move through on the inside, Lagat was squeezed and trod on the plinth. He went down, but quickly regained his balance.
Avoiding the trouble, Gus Choge of Kenya came down the outside to take the heat in seven minutes 57.49 seconds. Daegu 5000 metres world champion Mo Farah, who led at the bell, was second in 7:57.59 with Lagat third in 7:57.68.
Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebrmeskel took the vital fourth place in 7:57.69, 0.10 ahead of Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan. The luckless Ibrahimov was the man Lagat squeezed past on the inside after regaining his footing.
The first heat, by contrast, was a straight-forward affair won by Edwin Soi of Kenya in 7:49.48. Behind him, and leading throughout most of the final 400 metres, was Australia’s Craig Mottram in 7:49.62.
Mottram was bronze medallist at 5000 metres at the 2005 outdoor World Championships in Helsinki, but has endured several years of frustration with injuries. He is in his best form for some time, having won the 5000 at the Melbourne IWC meeting in 13:18.58 just last Saturday.
Moses Kipsiro of Uganda was third in 7:49.71 with Yenew Alamirew of Ethiopia fourth just 0.01 behind.
Lopez Lomong (USA), Arne Gabius (GER), Elroy Gelant (RSA) and Bilisuma Shuge (BRN) followed close behind to advance to the final on time.
Lagat will be attempting to win a third world indoor 3000 on Sunday, which would place him in a tie with Haile Gebrselassie for most wins in the event.
Len Johnson for the IAAF