World record holder, fastest in the world this year, four-time defending champion, Meseret Defar (ETH) remains on course to win a fifth consecutive title in the 3000 metres.
For 10 of the 15 laps of the first of two heats, Defar was roughly where we expect her to be. She was buried deep in the field of 11 as Silvia Weissteiner (ITA) led through the first 1000 metres in 3:08 and Paula Gonzalez (ESP) the second in 6:18.
By the end of the final lap, Defar was once again where we expect her to be – first across the line in 9:11.76, and again favourite for Sunday’s final.
Following Defar across the line was Kenya’s Sylvia Kibet, fourth in Doha 2010, Svitlana Shmidt of Ukraine and Jackie Areson (USA) whose major credential before this year was as last year’s US NCAA 5000m indoor champion.
The first four qualified automatically for the final. Again no surprise from a Defar heat, none of the four additional time qualifiers came from her heat.
Knowing what they had to do, the field in the second heat went out at a much faster pace (6:08.50 for the first 2000). With eight women remaining in contention with 400 metres to go, it was a straight forward equation – hang onto the pack, and gain a place in the final.
Defar’s teammate Gelete Burka came home in first place in 9:01.32, with Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, another Ukraine runner in Nataliya Tobias and Shitaye Eshete (BRN) taking the other automatic qualifier places.
Obiri fell in the 1500m final at last year’s World Championships in Daegu and will be looking for a better result here.
The other four places in the final went to Helen Clitheroe (GBR), Sara Hall (USA), Alia Saeed Mohammed (UAE) and Poland’s Lidia Chojecka, who followed the first four home. A mere 1.61 seconds covered the eight qualifiers.
Len Johnson for the IAAF