Four races down, one to go for Genzebe Dibaba in her distance double mission.
Given her busy schedule at this championships, the 1500m winner can be forgiven for not wanting to expend too much energy in this morning’s 5000m heats. Dibaba sat at the back for much of the race, allowing Japan’s Misaki Onishi to do the early leading.
The first kilometre was passed in 3:04.77 and Onishi still led at 2000m, reached in 6:10.56. Britain’s Steph Twell moved into second place at half way and then took the lead soon after. Kenya’s Irene Cheptai was sitting in third place with compatriot Mercy Cherono in sixth.
Dibaba was still near the back of the pack, but Cherono then hit the front with three laps to go and Dibaba followed. Within a matter of seconds, a pack of five had broken clear as Cherono and Dibaba were joined by Cheptai, Susan Kuijken of the Netherlands and Bahrain’s Mimi Belete.
The lead pack hit 4000m in 12:26.58 with the rest of the field some two seconds behind. As the bell sounded, Cheptai then took her turn to lead but Cherono and Dibaba were always close behind. Dibaba finally kicked with 100m to go and eased her way to victory in 15:20.82.
Although the next four athletes to finish were secure in the top five automatic qualifying spots, that didn’t stop them from sprinting all the way to the line. Cherono took second place from Belete, both clocking 15:20.94, while Cheptai was just 0.09 behind. Kuijken took the last automatic qualifying spot in 15:25.67.
Early leaders Onishi and Twell were rewarded for their early efforts with non-automatic qualifying spots, along with USA’s Nicole Tully.
The second heat wasn’t too dissimilar to the first. Japanese duo Ayuko Suzuki led from team-mate Azusa Sumi through 1000m in 3:16.67 before Sumi dropped back.
World leader Almaz Ayana and compatriot Senbere Teferi moved into second and third place behind Suzuki, passing 2000m in 6:17.23 and closely tracked by the Kenyan pair of Viola Kibiwot and Janet Kisa.
Just before reaching the 3000m split in 9:17.25, Ayana moved into the lead and cranked up the pace. She covered the next kilometre in 2:56.67 and the field became strung out. Kibiwot was in second and Suzuki was still holding on in third with Teferi and Kisa a bit further back, some 40 metres in front of Eloise Wellings of Australia.
Wellings caught Kisa with two laps remaining. Teferi moved past Kibiwot one lap later, but Ayana was still safe out in front. A 2:55 final kilometre brought Ayana home in 15:09.40, more than five seconds ahead of Teferi.
Kibiwot finished third in 15:15.27, while Kisa overtook Wellings in the closing stages, both qualifying by right in fourth and fifth with respective times of 15:26.49 and 15:26.67. Suzuki and Austria’s Jennifer Wenth also progressed on time.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF