Ethiopians have won three of the last four women's 1500m titles and Genzebe Dibaba is looking to add her name to that illustrious list.
The youngest of the storied Dibaba sisters the 21-year-old, who won three World junior titles - a pair in Cross COuntry and at 5000m in 2010 - has already shown that she can run fast, witnessed by the fact that she arrived in Istanbul as the season's fastest at 4:00.13. In the first of two qualifying heats, Dibaba dictated the pace from the 1000-metre point and held on to win the tactical affair in 4:11.17, nearly half a second ahead of Spain's Isabel Macias (4:11.64).
The second heat went to Moroccan Mariem Selsouli, who took command with just over 300 metres to go. In a furious finish, the Moroccan national record holder at 4:03.67 from Lievin this year, headed off Frenchwoman Hind Dehiba 4:08.56 to 4:08.78.
"Running indoors is more difficult," the 27-year-old said. "You have to be particularly cautious in the bends. The most important for me today was to qualify. I expect a very high level of competition in the final."
Much of that competition could come from those who finished behind her in the opening round, including Ethiopian No. 2 Tizita Bogale who finished third.
"This is my first indoor season and I am still a junior," said the 18-year-old Bogale, who despite her age has collected a number of top-three finishes this season. "The race went well and I did not worry much as it is the prelims. I prefer a fast race in the final."
Also moving on was Russian Elena Arzhakova (4:09.15) who was fourth, and Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin who took the race out hard in the opening stages, led through 800 metres, and never lost contact. The 26-year-old finished fifth in 4:09.30, a new national record.
Angelika Cichocka of Poland (sixth in 4:09.50) and Natallia Kareiva of Belarus, who was third in the first heat, also advanced.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF