Nairobi — World Champion Timothy Cheruiyot led the Kenyan duo of Abel Kipsang and Charles Simotwo to book a slot in the semi-final of the 1500m at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after all went through from their heats on Tuesday.
Kipsang timed 3:40.68 to easily win Heat Two while Cheruiyot, a late inclusion in the team, finished second in the first heat after timing 3:36.01 with Simotwo, the winner at the Kenyan trials going through by the skin of his teeth despite finishing 10th in heat three.
Cheruiyot posted the fastest time among the three Kenyans, though he finished second behind Belgium's Debjani Ismael by a hundredth of a second.
The lanky athlete who was included into the team at the expense of youngster Kamar Etyang who was dropped after failing to meet the threshold of three out of competition tests seemed comfortable in the race and didn't push himself too much.
At the Bell, Cheruiyot was in the lead with the Ethiopian Samuel Tefera sticking to his neck while Briton Kerr Josh stuck on the outside lane, trying to keep up with the pace.
The huge leading group ran together at the home straight and despite Cheruiyot trying to kick, the group surged. The Kenyan just stuck to the front as the group poured out behind him and despite a lunge at the line, he was safely though to the final.
Kipsang ran a more eased out heat where he won with a good 5m gap between him and the second placed finisher, Rio 2016 champion Mathew Centrowitz of the United States.
At the bell, Kipsang was stuck in the middle of the pack but pulled away to run on the outside lane to give himself space.
At the home straight, Kipsang was pumping up the pace and he comfortably glided away to clock 3:40.68 in comfortable pace with defending champion Centrowitz clocking 3:41.12.
Simotwo meanwhile ran a tough heat three and just but managed to sneak in as one of the best finishers outside the automatic qualifying slots. He timed 3:37.26, running faster than Kipsang in finishing 10th.
He had looked to secure an automatic top six slot, but lost steam in the final 100m of the race with Jake Heyward of Great Britain winning in 3:36.14 ahead of Ethiopia's Tedesse Lemi in 3:36.26.