Laura Muir qualified for Friday night’s Olympic 1500m final with room to spare, finishing a comfortable second in her semi-final behind world champion Sifan Hassan.
Australia’s Linden Hall set the early pace, but Muir moved up on to her shoulder early in the race and overtook on the back straight to lead heading into the final 100m.
Netherlands’ Hassan had tripped and fallen in her heat before recovering to win, but there was no such drama here. She lurked at the back of the pack before surging at the bell, and she picked off everybody in the field including Muir in the home straight.
Muir opted out of the 800m in Tokyo to focus on this event, and on this evidence she is in shape to challenge for a medal. She clocked 4:00.73 behind Hassan in 4:00.23, who continues her hunt for a historic triple of 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m Olympic titles having won 5k gold on Monday.
“Everyone always talks about the final but you have to get there first,” Muir said. “To make and Olympic final is still a very big achievement and I’m very happy I’m there now and I can look forward to Friday.
“I saw we were clear at the end so I eased down a bit. I saw the first semi-final was quite quick so the fastest loser spots were going to be tough. I didn’t want to get pipped on the line and wanted to keep out of harm’s way.”
Muir also spoke about her teammate Jemma Reekie, who was pushed out of the bronze medal position on the finish line in the 800m final. “We are close and we’re sharing [rooms]. She is gutted but it shows the standard of athlete she is. To come fourth is so difficult but she ran incredibly well and I’m very proud of her.”
Hall, Uganda’s Winne Nanyondo and Spain’s Marta Perez also qualified automatically for the final.
The reigning Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon won the first semi-final in a quick 3:56.80, and her battle with Hassan in the final will be fascinating. Hassan pipped Kipyegon to the 2019 world title and the Kenyan wants revenge.
Britain’s Katie Snowden finished ninth in 4:02.93, as Ethiopa’s Freweyni Gebreezibeher, Canada’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford, Australia’s Jessica Hull and Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka all qualified – the latter two in national records.
America’s Elinor Puerrier St Pierre and Kristlina Maki of Czech Republic made the final with the two next fastest times.