BAHRAIN'S Taj Baba and Shama Mubarak are both through to the women's 5000m final at the London Olympics after clinching two of the final three qualifying spots from yesterday's heats.
Although both were overrun for the automatic qualifying places in the final lap of their respective races, lifetime best times ensured their colossal efforts would not be in vain.
Running in heat one, Baba, the baby of the Bahrain athletics team in London at just 20 years of age, ran superbly from the off and looked on course for one of the top five automatic spots for the majority.
With the Ethiopian duo of Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar and Kenya's Viola Jelagat Kibiwot way out on front, Baba led the chasing pack round the final bend only to be beaten into sixth position by Russia's Olga Golovkina and Julie Culley of the USA just shy of the line.
Her finishing time of 15min:05.59sec however, knocked a whopping nine seconds off her pervious personal best and, although she had to endure an anxious wait for the outcome of the second race, she eventually claimed the fourth of five next-best-quickest-times qualifying places for the final.
Although she got off to a much slower start, Mubarak's fortunes in the second heat followed a similar pattern to her team-mate, as she made a lot of the running behind the leading trio, in this instance two Kenyans and an Ethiopian.
In a dramatic case of dŽjˆ vu, she tired on the final lap and fell behind the automatic qualifiers but a brave fight saw the 22-year-old push all the way to the line and she finished in eighth place in a time of 15:05.48.
That time, also nine seconds faster than her previous personal best, meant Mubarak edged ahead of Baba in the final order but with the next best finisher Elena Romanoglo coming in almost a second behind, both progressed to Friday night's final.