Sifan Hassan and Faith Kipyegon in the 1500m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
In a largely uneventful first round of the women’s 1500m, all of the medal contenders made it through to the next round – some doing so more convincingly than others.
World champion Genzebe Dibaba won the first heat in 4:10.61, dashing ahead of the rest of the field on the last lap to win comfortably. Ireland’s Ciara Mageean emerged from the chasing pack to finish second to Dibaba in 4:11.51.
European champion Angelika Cichocka had to work hard down the home straight to guarantee her place among the top six automatic qualifiers, the Pole managing to salvage fifth place in 4:11.76 as she crossed the line seemingly level with USA’s Brenda Martinez, Australia’s Linden Hall and Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen. Just 0.02 separated those four women, but they all advanced.
The second heat was perhaps the toughest as world leader Faith Kipyegon was drawn against world indoor champion Sifan Hassan and 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson. Kipyegon led for much of the way, while Hassan stayed at the back before working her way through the field. They drew level with each other on the home straight and just 0.01 separated them on the line, Hassan getting the verdict in 4:06.64.
Fast-finishing Pole Sofia Ennaoui was third, while Simpson, Malika Akkaoui and Ethiopia’s Besu Sadu took the other automatic qualifying spots.
Canada’s Nicole Sifuentes dictated the pace in the third and final heat. She was eventually caught by Britain’s Laura Muir and USA’s Shannon Rowbury, but it was Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum who took the field by surprise, bursting into the lead with 200 metres remaining and going on to win in 4:05.33.
Rowbury, Muir, Rababe Arafi, Meraf Bahta and Zoe Buckman all advanced by right, while Sifuentes also made it through as a non-automatic qualifier.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF