Dibaba on course for distance double

Defending champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia qualified fastest for the final of the 5000m on Tuesday as she chases a second consecutive Olympic long distance double.

The Ethiopian, who has already won the 10000m in London, won her 5000m heat in a time of 14min 58.48sec, edging out Athens 2004 gold medallist Meseret Defar (14:58.70)

Double 2011 world champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya, who finished third in the last week's 10000m, also qualified for Friday's final in 15:01.54.

Dibaba was the first woman to complete the 5000-10000 double in Beijing and successfully defended her 10000 title on the opening day of the track and field programme in London.

Defar said her plan was to save energy and qualify for the final.

"It was a good race and everything went according to plan. I am ready for the final," she said.

"I have a good chance. I'm in good shape and I'm feeling fine, but there are other strong athletes in the field and I will never stop fighting for it."

Other qualifiers include Viola Kibiwot, who has twice won the world cross country title, and Kenya's Sally Kipyego, who took silver in the 10000m in London.

The women's 5000m became an Olympic event at the Atlanta 1996 Games, succeeding the 3000m. Ethiopia lead the table with two gold and three bronze medals.

(From left) Kenya's Viola Kibiwot, Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene and Ethiopia's Meseret Defar compete in the women's 5000m heats at the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Dibaba qualified fastest for the final of the 5000m on Tuesday as she chases a second consecutive Olympic long distance double.