US indoor champion and world leader Ajee Wilson moved one step closer to winning her first senior global medal by dominating the first of the three heats in 2:00.61, the fastest time in the first round.
The 2012 world junior champion led from the gun and held off the challenge from Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, returning to Oregon where she succeeded Wilson as world junior champion in 2014.
Wambui was rewarded with an indoor personal best of 2:00.68, enough to make it to the final as the fastest non-automatic qualifier.
With no finalist from Burundi since 1993, Francine Niyonsaba made sure their two representatives in Portland make it to the medal races with a commanding win in the second heat with a national indoor record with 2:02.37. She joins Antoine Gakeme, who qualified to the men’s 800m on Friday.
Laura Roesler will join her compatriot Wilson in the final thanks to her 2:04.38 win in the third and final heat.
Iceland’s Aníta Hinricksdottir and Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu also benefited from a fast first heat to complete the list of women for Sunday’s final.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF