Most of Favorite Advance in 3k Heats at 2008 World Indoors
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
VALENCIA, Spain (07-Mar) -- The 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships
opened here today at the Palau Lluis Puig, and nearly all the top
entrants in the men's and women's 3000 meters advance to their
The first heat of the women's qualifying round offered perhaps the best
glimpse of tomorrow's final when defending champion, Meseret Defar of
Ethiopia, and one of her top challengers, Kim Smith of New Zealand,
broke away with three laps to go to finish 1-2 in 8:51.02 and 8:52.82,
respectively. Their times were particularly impressive, considering
they ran the first kilometer in a pokey 3:06.22.
"It was easy," Defar said after the race, speaking in English. "I keep for tomorrow."
Smith, who finished behind Defar when she set a world best for two
miles at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games last January, stayed right on
the Ethiopian's heels for the final lap, despite being well clear of
the field. She seemed to be trying to send a signal to Defar that she
plans to be as close to her as possible in tomorrow's final.
"I didn't want to leave it to the end," said the always-modest Smith. "I just wanted to make sure."
Sylvia Kibet of Kenya (8:56.14) and Lisa Dobriskey of Britain (8:56.56)
finished third and fourth, respectively, to nab the other two automatic
qualifying spots. Fifth place Yelena Sidorchenkova of Russia advanced
on time in 8:57.62. American Jen Rhines was eliminated, finishing
eighth in 9:03.66.
The second heat was much faster, with Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia,
another medal favorite, working with Portuguese Jessica Augusto to keep
the pace high. The pair went through the first kilometer in 2:57.44,
and Augusto stayed on the front until there were three laps to go in
the 15 lap race. Melkamu had the strongest closing lap, to finish
first in 8:46.32. Russia's Olga Komyagina came second (8:46.64),
Morocco's Mariem Alaoui Selsoui was third (8:48.22), and Canadian Megan
Metcalfe took fourth in a new Canadian indoor record (8:48.56).
"I'm really excited," said Metcalfe smiling broadly. "I was really ready out there. This weekend is finally my weekend!"
Augusto, Italy's Silvia Weissteiner, and Britain's Helen Clitheroe all
advanced on time. The big surprise was Kenya's Veronica Nyaruai who
finished ninth in 9:12.68 and did not advance.
ETHIOPIANS AND KENYANS LEAD MEN'S QUALIFYING
Not surprisingly, men from Kenya and Ethiopia took the top-2 spots on both qualifying heats.
In the absurdly slow first heat, the first kilometer was passed in just
2:58.11, slower than the women ran in the second heat. The athletes
were bunched up and there was a fair amount of bumping. Looking
frustrated, Argentina's Javier Carriqueo shot ahead in the second
kilometer, trying to make up for lost time. Running alone, he led the
race until the pack absorbed him with three laps to go. American Chris
Solinsky was in the thick of it and liked his chances to advance.
"That race set up perfectly," Solinsky said after the race.
But the last kilometer was a scorcher (2:28.86) and it left many people
behind. Carriqueo got dumped out the back and would finish eighth, but
Kenyan Edwin Soi and Ethiopian Tariku Bekele had no troubles, finishing
1-2 in 8:03.54 and 8:03.55, respectively. Soi spread his arms in
victory, perhaps rehearsing for Sunday's final. Britain's Mo Farah and
Spain's Sergio Sanchez got the other two automatic qualifying spots.
Solinsky finished seventh.
"There was nothing there," he said of how his legs felt in the final
200 meters. "I felt great with three laps to go. I thought I could
roll that last 200. It's a big, big disappointment."
The second heat was only moderately faster, an odd result given how the
slow first heat opened the door for four time qualifiers to advance.
Australia's Craig Mottram couldn't understand why nobody wanted to
help with the pace.
"We knew the time was slow," said Mottram who finished third in
7:55.27. "Some of the guys in the back should have pushed it. It's
really their loss."
It turned out, however, that it was just fast enough to generate four
time qualifiers. Kenyan Paul Kipsiele Koech and Ethiopian Abreham
Cherkos got to the line in front, finishing first and second in 7:54.46
and 7:54.51, respectively. Morocco's Ali Maatoui got the fourth
automatic qualifier behind Mottram in 7:56.26, followed by Qatar's
James Kwalia, America's Jonathon Riley, Germany's Arne Gabius and
Algeria's Kamal Boulahfane who all advanced on time. Riley, the
three-time U.S. indoor champion who was eliminated in the first round
of this meet in 2006, was very pleased with his race.
"I felt really fresh," said Riley. "It was a pretty easy pace."
# # # # #
The 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships continue this afternoon with
the preliminary rounds of the men's and women's 800 meters, and men's
1500m on tap in the middle distances. Medals will be awarded in the
men's shot put and men's and women's 60 meters. A USD 40,000 check
accompanies every gold medal.
3000 Metres - W Heats Qual. rule: first 4 of each heat (Q) plus the 4 fastest times (q) qualified.
07 March 2008 - 10:15
Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet
07 March 2008 - 10:35
Mariem Alaoui Selsouli
Veronica Nyaruai Wanjiru
Maria Pia Nehme
Zakia Mrisho Mohamed
3000 Metres - M Heats Qual. rule: first 4 of each heat (Q) plus the 4 fastest times (q) qualified.