NAIROBI, November 10 – Olympic 800 metres champion Pamela Jelimo has made the shortlist for the IAAF athlete of the year award.
The 18 year old sensation is among three female finalists for the women’s category and will duke it out with double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Russia’s Yelena Isinbaeya who defended her Olympic pole vault title and set anew world record along the way.
Should she win, she will become the first Kenyan to win the IAAF honour.
Olympic men’s marathon gold medallist Samuel Kamau Wanjiru failed to the make the men’s final shortlist after the 22 year old finished sixth in the polling.
Triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, Olympic and world 110 metres hurdles record holder Dayron Robles and double Olympic medallist Kenenisa Bekele will fight it out for the men’s crown.
The nomination continues Jelimo’s stellar season during which she rewrote the 800 metres race.
Despite having taken up the race only this year, she won the African title in 1:58.70 in Addis Ababa in May and then went on to lower the World junior, African and national 800 metres record no less than five times.
In Beijing, Jelimo became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal and in September she clocked the third fastest time of all time in Zurich timing 1:54.01.
She went on to win the IAAF Sh$1 million Golden League jackpot and wrapped it up with a win at the season ending World Athletics Final in Stuttgart.
Back home she was hosted by Presidnet Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga the government promised to give her a diplomatic passport.
Jelimo also had a street named after her in Kapsabet town in recognition of her sterling achievements.
The winners of the 2008 World Athlete of the Year Awards will be announced live, on stage, during the 2008 World Athletics Gala, which will take place in Monaco, on 23 November.
Weighed at 70% the IAAF Family vote consisted in a list of 1512 recipients including IAAF & IAF Council Members, IAAF Member Federations, IAAF Committee & Commission Members, IAAF Meeting Directors, IAAF Ambassadors, Leading Athletes, Athletes’ Representatives, IAAF Staff Members and selected members of the International Press.
As part of the Online Public Vote which weighed at 30% of the overall standings, the IAAF received a total of 493,353 votes (250,361 for the men and 242,992 for the women).
Last year, Ruth Bosibori won the IAAF Rising Stars award after her heroics in the year during which she set a new World junior 3,000 metres steeplechase record and won the All Africa Games steeplechase gold medal.