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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 respective finals.

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.


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.
Heat 1
07 March 2008 - 10:15
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 Meseret Defar ETH 8:51.02 Q .
2 Kimberley Smith NZL 8:52.81 Q (SB)
3 Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet KEN 8:56.14 Q .
4 Lisa Dobriskey GBR 8:56.56 Q .
5 Yelena Sidorchenkova RUS 8:57.62 q .
6 Elena Antoci ROU 8:58.01 .
7 Hanane Ouhaddou MAR 9:03.41 .
8 Jennifer Rhines USA 9:03.66 .
9 Fei Xue CHN 9:03.67 (PB)
10 Alemitu Bekele TUR 9:04.94 .
11 Isabel Checa ESP 9:06.21 (PB)
Heat 2
07 March 2008 - 10:35
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 Meselech Melkamu ETH 8:46.32 Q .
2 Olga Komyagina RUS 8:46.64 Q (SB)
3 Mariem Alaoui Selsouli MAR 8:48.22 Q .
4 Megan Metcalfe CAN 8:48.56 Q (NR)
5 Jessica Augusto POR 8:48.81 q .
6 Silvia Weissteiner ITA 8:50.30 q (SB)
7 Helen Clitheroe GBR 8:52.48 q .
8 Julie Culley USA 9:04.45 .
9 Veronica Nyaruai Wanjiru KEN 9:12.68 .
10 Daniela Donisa ROU 9:19.26 .
11 Maria Pia Nehme LIB 10:31.95 (NR)
. Zakia Mrisho Mohamed TAN DNS .
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark
1 71 Meselech Melkamu ETH 2:57.44
1 34 Fei Xue CHN 3:06.22
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark
1 163 Jessica Augusto POR 5:53.68
1 153 Kimberley Smith NZL 6:06.09


3000 Metres - M Heats
Qual. rule: first 4 of each heat (Q) plus the 4 fastest times (q) qualified.
Heat 1
07 March 2008 - 10:55
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 Edwin Cheruiyot Soi KEN 8:03.54 Q .
2 Tariku Bekele ETH 8:03.55 Q .
3 Mohammed Farah GBR 8:04.65 Q .
4 Sergio Sánchez ESP 8:04.71 Q .
5 Cosimo Caliandro ITA 8:04.80 .
6 Sultan Khamis Zaman QAT 8:05.61 .
7 Chris Solinsky USA 8:06.29 .
8 Javier Carriqueo ARG 8:12.40 .
9 David Galván MEX 8:28.29 (PB)
. Mohammed S.A. Salama PLE DNS .
. Dickson Marwa Mkami TAN DNS .
Heat 2
07 March 2008 - 11:15
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 Paul Kipsiele Koech KEN 7:54.46 Q .
2 Abreham Cherkos ETH 7:54.51 Q .
3 Craig Mottram AUS 7:55.27 Q .
4 Ali Maataoui MAR 7:56.26 Q .
5 James Kwalia C'Kurui QAT 7:58.13 q .
6 Jonathon Riley USA 7:59.22 q (SB)
7 Arne Gabius GER 7:59.48 q .
8 Kamal Boulahfane ALG 7:59.88 q .
9 Nick McCormick GBR 8:00.01 .
10 Sylvain Rukundo RWA 8:02.49 (PB)
11 Audace Baguma BDI 8:10.56 (PB)
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark
1 297 Sylvain Rukundo RWA 2:46.81
1 5 Javier Carriqueo ARG 2:58.11
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark
1 267 James Kwalia C'Kurui QAT 5:27.15
1 5 Javier Carriqueo ARG 5:34.90

*Full Results Here

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