The last two Olympic champions, Asbel Kiprop and Taoufik Makhloufi, qualified with ease for Saturday’s final from the first of two semi-finals which followed the stereotype for championships middle-distance racing at this level of a major championship.
The first race saw Ethiopia’s Dawit Wolde and then Morocco’s Brahim Kaazouzi lead during the early stages of the race, the latter taking the field through to 800m in 2:03.86 with Kiprop loping along at the back looking very relaxed
Bahrain’s Benson Seurei darted to the front about 60 metres before bell and suddenly the pace jumped into a much faster gear.
Seurei held the lead until midway down the back straight for the last time, when Kiprop glided into pole position after gradually working his way forward over the previous 150 metres.
The 2008 Olympic champion, and three-time world champion, looked superbly comfortable at the front before crossing the line in 3:39.73 but there was an enthralling battle behind his to work out who would take the remaining four automatic qualifying places.
As we have seen so often, Makhloufi can accelerate over the final 100 metres or so of a middle-distance race like few of his peers and he came through to finish second just 0.15 behind Kiprop, just edging out New Zealand’s 20008 Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis, who was third in 3:39.96.
USA’s Ben Blenkenship and Great Britain’s Charlie Grice took fourth and fifth place in what was essentially a seven-man sprint for the line.
The second semi-final followed a similar pattern.
Uganda’s Ronald Musagala took the field through the majority of the first half of the race before passing 800m in 2:03.59, very marginally faster than the first semi-final.
Ayanlah Souleiman shortly afterwards moved his way to the front and Djibouti’s 2014 world indoor champion was still ahead at the bell and then as they entered the back straight for the last time.
Down the back straight, Kenya’s Ronald Kwemoi challenged and then went past Souleiman in the home straight and the USA’s two-time world championships medallist Matt Centrowicz also duelled with the two East Africans down the home straight.
Kwemoi crossed the line in 3:39.42 – running close to 52 seconds for the last lap as the official results, with Souleiman in the lead, gave the final 400m split as 52.53 – with Souleiman 0.04 further back and Centrowitz taking third in 3:39.61.
Australia’s Ryan Gregson and USA’s Robby Andrews took fourth and fifth places, the latter giving USA a trio of runners in the final, but early pacemaker Musagala’s sixth place in 3:40.37 was not quite quick enough to see him progress as one of the two non-automatic qualifiers with Morocco’s London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Abdelaati Iguider and Canada’s Nate Brannen going through to the final on time.
Kenya’s IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 silver medallist Elijah Manangoi did not start the second semi-final for an unstated reason.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF