Beijing Perspective: Jelimo Dominates, by Bob Ramsak, Notes by Larry Eder

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The women's 800 meters, a 1-2 for Kenya, was the first gold medal for Olympic women in that event. It was also one of the furious of the middle distance races yet, in terms of pacing. Jelimo wanted to win, and lead the whole way, with Jepkosgei Busieni pushing her the entire race.

The men's steeplechase pace was strong, but not insane, which has happened in past, so that is part of reason why the unknown French steepler was in the game, but hats are off, as he broke up the top Kenyan runners in a race owned by Kenya for the past five Olympics.

TRACK PROFILE Report #810
18-August-2008

JELIMO DOMINATES, TAKES FIRST EVER KENYAN WOMEN’S GOLD

By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved

BEIJING -- Continuing one of the most spectacular rises from obscurity that the sport has witnessed in recent years, Kenyan teenager Pamela Jelimo ran away with the Olympic 800m title tonight at Beijing's National Stadium.

With the year’s five fastest performances and with eight victories in as many races this season, Jelimo was the overwhelming favourite to take the gold, and she hardly disappointed, clocking 1:54.87, her fourth World junior record of the summer. Notably, the 18-year-old claimed the first ever Olympic gold medal for Kenya in an event she first contested on the 19th of April this year.

“It makes me very happy to be the first for Kenya,” said Jelimo. “I’m still young and I’m looking forward to doing better. Maybe I can be the best again.”

In Olympic lore, she made an immediate impact. She succeeded 1968 champion Madeline Manning as the youngest-ever champion and her performance has only been bettered by two women in Olympic competition, Nadezhda Olizarenko and Olga Mineyeva of the Soviet Union, who ran 1:53.43 (then a World record) and 1:54.81, respectively, at the 1980 Games in Moscow.

Her Kenyan teammate Janeth Jepkosgei, the reigning World champion, took the lead from the outset, and held on for second, in 1:56.07, with Hasna Benhassi (1:56.73) of Morocco closing fast to follow up her Athens silver with Beijing bronze.

In her fifth consecutive Olympic final, 2000 gold medallist Maria Mutola settled for fifth, with a season’s best 1:57.68.

“I’m pleased,” said Mutola, “but it would have been better if I could have finished on the podium. But you know, I did my best.”

TAYLOR LEADS US 400m HURDLES SWEEP

Eight years ago in Sydney, Angelo Taylor made history with his gold medal-winning run in the 400m hurdles from lane 1. Tonight, he made history again, returning to take another gold and leading a U.S. podium sweep in the process.

"It means the world to me,” said Taylor, whose quick 47.25 performance was a career best. “I think I could have run faster though. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me."

Blazing from the gun, his was a power that simply couldn’t be matched, with Kerron Clement, the 2007 world champion, and Bershawn Jackson, the world champion in 2005, beating back a series of crashed barriers and stutter steps to carry through to take silver and bronze in 47.98 and 48.06, respectively.

“We are the best three hurdlers in the world,” Clement said. “We proved that today.”

Their’s was the fifth podium sweep for the U.S., but the first in 48 years.

KENYAN 1-3 IN MEN’S STEEPLECHASE, BUT THE FOCUS IS ON SILVER MEDALLIST

That Kenyans would dominate the men’s 3000m steeplechase was never in doubt. But that a relatively unknown newcomer, a European no less, would threaten their and in the end spoil their medal sweep ambitions was not on anyone’s radar.

Indeed, so surprising was the undaunted challenge by the unheralded Frenchman, Mahledine Mekhissi-Benabbad, that it will be his relentless homestretch charge that will be perhaps more memorable than world champion Brimin Kipruto’s 8:10.34 victory.

Timing his late race surge perfectly, Mekhissi-Benabbad forced his way through Kipruto and Richard Mateelong with less than 50 meters to go to take unexpected silver in 8:10.49.

The slate for tomorrow’s day 5 action on the track includes the finals in the men’s 1500m, the women’s 400m and 100m hurdles. Also, 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba will compete in the first round of the 5000m while 100m champion Usain Bolt continues his double dash quest in the semi-finals of the 200m.


ENDS

used with permission of Bob Ramsak, http://www.trackprofile.com

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