NAIROBI, August 30 – Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo continued her one woman mission to improve the senior African and World Junior 800m records at Weltklasse Golden League meeting on Friday night.
With only one more Golden League meet to go, Jelimo and Blanka Vlasic successfully completed the fifth of six stages in their quest to at least share the ÅF Golden League $1 Million Jackpot by the conclusion of the series in Brussels next week.
There is no stopping the 18-year-old Jelimo. The Olympic 800m champion improved the Area senior and World Junior records jointly for the fourth time this season (the junior mark for a fifth) with a 1:54.01 run.
This puts the phenomenal teenager who has only been racing 800m for the first time this season into third place on the all-time list, with just World record holder Jarmila Kartochvilova (1:53.28 – 1983) and Nadezhda Olizarenko (1:53.43 – 1980) ahead.
The race was taken through 400m by Svetlana Klyuka in 55.66sec. The Russian who was fourth in Beijing had been specially contracted to pace the race given there are few athletes who have the strength to set the necessary tempo for Jelimo.
Klyuka continued down the back straight for quite a way before stepping aside for the Olympic champion, who is learning race by race a more balanced approach to two lap running.
What will another winter’s training and a year’s more competitive experience bring the world we can only guess, and there are still at least two more opportunities for Jelimo to stun us in 2008.
Bahrain’s World 1500m champion Maryam Jamal, a heavily legged fifth at her specialist distance in Beijing, showed a lot more spark in the Kenyan’s wake tonight, setting a national record of 1:57.80. 1:58.66 back in May was Jamal’s previous national best.
Well beaten in third was World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei in 1:58.26. What a difference a year makes. A year ago, Jepkosgei was the season’s great find and won here in 1:59.03, with the Kenyan record at the time standing to her at 1:56.04. There is no argument that we have witnessed a seismic change in women’s 800m running in 2008.
“I can tell you I’m so tired,” said Jelimo. “The World record is now closer but I’m not sure I can do it this year, maybe next.”
Maria Mutola, who has taken twelve victories in Zürich, made her final farewell to the crowd in great style finishing fourth in 1:58.71, while Olympic 1500m champion Nancy Lagat, was ninth in 2:05.84.