Kenya: Pamela Jelimo, London for a golden redemption
At her very young age, Pamela Jelimo will be up to another big challenge when the Olympic Games kick off in London: defend her gold medal as well as confirm her return to the centre stage. It won’t be an easy task for the 23 year old who knows how rife the competition will be. However, the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal can inspire herself from her past exploits to win the precious metal. This will certainly put her tupsy turvey career back on track. A career that started with secondary school success at the school championships notably in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 400m hurdles and heptathlon events. After winning the 400metres gold medal at the African Junior Championships with a finish of 54.93s and setting a Kenyan national junior record in the 200m with 24.68s, Jelimo was advised by her trainer Zaid Kipkemboi Aziz to change category and move to the 800m distance. This decision proved to be a turning point in her life as it opened the door for several records and titles. She clocked 2:01.02 in her first 800m race at the Kenyan trials for the African championships in Nairobi April 2008.
2008: A year of Breakthrough
2008 marked the rise to fame of the police constable. At just 18, she set a new national record at the 2008 African Championships in Athletics (1:58.70,), before setting a new junior world record of 1:55.76 at the Hengelo Grand Prix. She later set a new African record (1:54.99,) in the 800m by winning the ISTAF Golden League in Berlin before slightly improving the record to 1:54.97 days later in Paris. She crowned her rise to the big stage by becoming the first Kenyan woman to win gold at the Olympics after winning the 800m with a record time of 1:54.87. Later in August she improved her personal best to 1:54.01 by winning the Golden League meeting in Zurich. She later became the first Kenyan athlete to win the Golden League jackpot of one million dollars after winning all six Golden League events in the 800m. Her unbeaten season was crowned with a victory at the IAAF Championships.
As life is full of ups and downs, 2009 will be a bleak season for the youngster who missed the 2009 Indoor season due to an Achilles’ tear contracted during training. She led her to several dismal performances as she was unable to finish her semi finals at the 2009 World Athletics Championships before failing to qualify for the 2010 African Championships scheduled for Nairobi.
The middle-distance runner has since but these problems behind her and kicked off 2012 in promising fashion winning several meetings as well as the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey bettering her time to 1:58.83 seconds. After winning the 2012 Doha Diamond League, she set a world-leading time of 1:56.76 at the Kenyan trials. She will certainly be building on this recent success to retain her gold medal in London
Born on 5 December 1989
2007 (African Junior Championships): 200m bronze medal and 400m and 800m gold medal
2008: 800m gold and 4×400 m silver at the African Championships, 800m gold at the Beijing Olympics, 800m gold at the World Athletics finals in Stuttgart
2012: 800m gold at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul