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Jelimo, Obiri target London glory

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NAIROBI, Kenya, March 13- After scaling the heights in Istanbul, Pamela Jelimo and fresh sensation, Helen Obiri have trained their arsenal on a spirited shot at Olympics glory in London.

The pair who left the 14th World Indoors in Turkey in a plume of gold dust after thrilling victories in the women 800m and 3000m events stressed on Tuesday that the Istanbul party was over as they embark on preparing for the Summer Games.

Jelimo, who raced a world leading 1:58.38 for victory to bag her first international title since her Beijing Olympics victory in 2008 talked of how close her storming return almost ended in hurt.

“I was not expecting I could manage to run well indoors. In the first round, I qualified by seconds. In the heats, you should run to your maximum since you could be number one but you are knocked out.

“I wanted to run the final tactically and when I found myself winning, I said, Wow! This is my day! It means a lot to me and I have to focus, keep my spirit burning since as a defending Olympics champion, staying away for three years is a big disappointment,” she said at an Athletics Kenya (AK) reception on Tuesday.

She attributes her victory to switching tactics at the final as her nightmare that began with a semi final exit at the 2009 World Championships was finally exorcised.

“I was so emotional; I prayed a lot, worked so hard and put too much effort. I could not believe it had happened since I have fought a lot and to be back again is great motivation to my career,” the Olympics crown holder added.

Jelimo stressed her Istanbul victory was not an automatic indicator that the Olympics title was in the bag.

“In every championship, anything can happen. What is important is to keep training flowing well, work hard, get support from the coach and not going back to sleep. Then everything will be perfect,” she explained.

She called on detractors to give recovering top athletes time to get back into shape.

“When you have an injury, it is a disaster and these athletes need support. An injury ruins motivation, training for one or two months then it returns. It is so bad but I did not give up, I was disciplined and stuck to my routine and now you can see.”

Jelimo, the world record junior record holder at 1:54.01 said at the moment, running fast times is not the centrepiece of her plans for 2012.

“For now, 1:58 is my personal best, in time when the training goes well, then we can think of it (running fast times). It all depends on the training and hard work. I do not fear anyone, when you are confident in a race, why do you fear?”

On her part, Obiri who caused one of the biggest upsets of the competition when she mowed four-time women 3000m titleholder, Meseret Defar from Ethiopia was still trying to come to terms with her monumental achievement.

“I did not believe until they handed me the gold. When I finished, I could not believe I had just beaten Defar and that is why I lay on the track for it to sink in.

“My aim was simple, to go there and try to fight for position two or three, we had given up on gold with my team mate Sylvia Kibet. We knew Defar would go out in front and she told me to follow her,” she revealed.

Obiri added, “In the last 150m, I decided to get past her and see how she would respond. When I went past her, I realised I had more strength and I went for it.”

However, she states her exploits in Istanbul would be relegated to the back burners as she focuses on the ultimate prize in her preferred 1500m outdoor event.

“The journey has just started. My main focus is the London Olympics Trials in June then try to go for the medal. I draw a lot of motivation from my Kenya Defence Forces team mate and Olympics champion, Nancy Jebet Lagat and I believe the title will remain in Kenya,” the Private at the Defence Forces noted.

For Edwin Soi, the men 3000m bronze winner, getting rid of tension ahead of races will be the centrepiece of his build-up for a return to the event where he won the third medal in Beijing.

“I want to get rid of the nerves that affect my performances at the national trials and main events. My aim was to return with a bigger medal from Istanbul but before the final, I was very tense and at the time, I wished there was someone else who would come and take my place.

“My plan is to work so hard to ensure when the Trials come, I will be in a position to express myself without fear. That is the only way it will work since when I run for my country, its not about the money, it’s all about carrying the expectations of all Kenyans,” the African 5000m champion added.

Soi disclosed he can still not comprehend why Great Britain lodged a protest against him to strip him of the bronze medal in favour of Mo Farah before the decision was reversed by the IAAF Jury of Appeal.

“Up to now, I cannot understand since I was running on my lane. Further back, there was a lot of jostling and I was spiked a number of time. I knew there would be some pushing near the end.

“In indoor tracks, such incidents happen a lot due to the elevated corners of the track but there was nothing to what happened. Perhaps, they should allow people to jostle a bit,” he added.

The Istanbul squad arrived from Turkey earlier in the morning before being hosted to a media call at Athletics Kenya (AK) headquarters.

Team manager, Barnabas Korir, said the Istanbul contingent delivered the best ever World Indoors performance for Kenya due to discipline, focus and teamwork.

“This has laid a platform for the country for the Olympics and AK, Government and all Kenyans should ensure that the support remains the same so that the nation can perform in London,” he added.

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