NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10- Olympic silver medalist Hellen Obiri led the Kenyan duo of Margaret Chelimo and Sheila Chepkirui smoothly into the final of the women’s 5000m at the IAAF World Championships in London, United Kingdom on Thursday night.
Obiri, the world leader this season won her heat in a time of 14:56.70 ahead of defending champion Almaz Ayana while Chepkirui who came sixth in the same heat qualified as one of the fastest losers.
Chelimo sneaked in an automatic qualification with a photo finish after coming fifth in her heat.
The Kenyan trio will now have the big expectation of wrestling the title off the hold of the Ethiopians and Obiri looks as comfortable as she is confident that the title will come home.
She seemed comfortable all through the race and after slowly running at the back for most parts of the contest, she bolted upfront with three laps to go, showing her intent but running with much more reserved energy.
Heading into the final two laps, Obiri was shoulder to shoulder with defending champion Ayana as they pumped up the pace, tearing the field apart and looking all set for qualification. Senbere Teferi, silver medal winner from two years back kept a close check.
Obiri kicked home in the final 200m with Ayana also following suit but considerably drowning the pace when she noticed no one on her shadow and a qualification spot guaranteed.
The Ethiopian clocked 14:57.06 with Teferi coming third while Netherlands’ Susan Krumins was fourth.
In the second heat, Chelimo had to dip her head on the line to progress in the Sunday final, in a race that saw a slower pace compared to the first heat.
Letesenbet Gidey won the heat in 14:59.34 ahead of Netherlands’ Sifa Hassan.
USA’s Molly Huddle had played the role of pacemaker in a championship, opening up a huge gap of almost 80m with only five laps gone.
The American had hoped to sustain the tempo till the end, but in the final 400m she lost gas and the chasing pack passed her at the home straight.
She looked strong with three laps remaining, but started drifting back in the final 800m. Hassan was the first to pump up the pace followed by Gidey.
Chelimo had tried to keep up with the pace but heading into the final 200m, she was out of power and had to dig deep as she headed to the finishing line, dipping her head to clock 15:00.39 ahead of Caroline Grovdal of Norway who timed 15:00.44 at sixth.
Huddle managed to put in a time of 15:03.60 and just managed to squeeze in as one of the fastest losers.
In the javelin throw, defending world champion Julius Yego qualified with his first throw, managing a mark of 83.57m, well into the qualification mark of 83.The final is set for Sunday.