If you think that Athletics Kenya is going to let one medal chance get away from them this summer, then you are sadly mistaken. Lots of web grumbles by Kenyans, fans of Kenyan athletics on why Kenyans can win every road race in site yet get blasted in World Champs or Olympics. Well the Federation is not letting that happen in Pamela Jelimo’s case, the young women who destroyed th World Junior Record at 800 meters with her 1:55.76 WJR at FBK Hengelo last weekend.
Read Bob Ramsak’s column and decide for yourself!
TRACK PROFILE Report #757
FOR JELIMO’S FOLLOW-UP, A LITTLE PATIENCE PLEASE
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
BERLIN â€“ After her stunning breakout performance at the FBK Games in Hengelo last Saturday, Pamela Jelimo can be forgiven for getting just a little bit ahead of herself.
Moments after her brilliant 1:55.76 run, a world junior record and the fastest 800m in the world in five years, the 19-year-old told reporters that her next outing would come at Sunday’s AF Golden League opener in Berlin.
But as Kenyan media are reporting, Athletics Kenya, the countryâ€™s governing body, may have other ideas. Aiming to keep their latest star fresh for the Olympic Games, the federation apparently hasnâ€™t granted permission for her to compete, requesting instead that she report to a pre-Olympic training camp post haste.
The world will have to wait just a little bit longer for another glimpse of the fleet-footed super teen, whose feat on Saturday landed her in the No. 20 spot all-time in just her first race on the international circuit.
That was unbelievable!â€ said Ellen van Langen, the 1992 Olympic 800m champion and a leading organizer of the Hengelo meet, after Jelimo can within a stride of the 1:55.54 which brought the Dutchwoman gold in Atlanta. â€œJust amazing.â€
It was the first outing for Jelimo after taking gold at the African Championships, where she clocked an impressive 1:58.70 in the altitude of Addis Ababa in what was, by many accounts, only her second outing over the distance.
Jelimo spoke calmly and matter-of-factly after her race, simply explaining how the change in altitude between the Ethiopian capital and Hengelo venues impacted her performance, as if it wasn’t a particularly big deal.
â€œIn Ethiopia where it was very high I ran 1:58, but here where it is lower, I knew I could run much better, which is what I did.â€
Better in fact, than the worldâ€™s current No. 1 in the event, Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei, who set the previous Kenyan record of 1:56.04 at last summerâ€™s world championships.
Jelimo said she looked up to Jepkosgei as an idol. Both are from Kapsabet in Kenyaâ€™s Rift Valley, and train together. Despite one-upping her idol, Jelimo insists there is no rivalry.
â€œI donâ€™t see any problem because if were from the same place, and train together, then it is ok.â€
Before her victory at the African Championships trials in Nairobi on April 19, where she clocked 2:01.02, Jelimo was a sprinter with modest credentials by world standards. She won the African junior 400m title in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, last year, with a personal best 54.93, and clocked a clocked a national junior record of 24.68 in the 200m.
The explanation for moving up in distance was just as straightforward.
â€œLast year I was sprinting in the 400 meters, but after many struggles in training, I managed to improve my times.â€
As was her prediction for her next race, whenever and wherever it may come.
â€œI was very happy with the race,â€ she said in Hengelo, â€œand I think I will do much better than Iâ€™ve done today.â€
In the meantime, Jepkosgei will be the clear favorite at Sundayâ€™s DBK-ISTAF meet in Berlin where sheâ€™ll kick off her chase for a slice of the $1 million AF Golden League Jackpot in her 2008 debut. The field also includes Australian Tamsyn Lewis, the reigning world indoor champion; Jamaican national record holder Kenia Sinclair; Russian, an Osaka finalists Svetlana Klyuka of Russia and Brigita Langerholc of Slovenia; and Ukrainian Tetyana Petlyuk, the world indoor silver medallist.
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