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Jelimo’s Lievin blast inspires fresh hope

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 15- Rejuvenated Olympics women 800m champion, Pamela Jelimo returns home on Thursday as she continues to chart a way back to top form with a title defence at the London Games top on the agenda.

Her 1:59.10 performance on Tuesday at the Lievin Indoor Meeting has created a buzz that the ‘Kapsabet Express’ who terrorised the opposition in 2008 was on the path to a roaring return.

“It’s still early to say she will be back to her very best but her performance has given us hope it could happen in a season where she is keen to defend her title.

“We moved her to Nairobi where she is staying and training away from the pressure she was under at home and we have started to note the results and we intend to continue with this programme,” her managers, Golazo Sports Kenya chief, Barnabas Korir, said on Wednesday.

Her performance also resonated well with the top echelons of Athletics Kenya (AK) with federation boss, Isaiah Kiplagat, hailing her first sub 2:00 showing in over two years as an inspiring signal for glory at the London Olympics.

“We are so happy that Jelimo has come back and that means we expect a medal. We were worried who is going to compete for us in the (women) 800m in the absence of the Olympics champion in Beijing.

“This is a blessing to us and we look forward to her improving her time. The fact that she was number two in the split of a second does not mean she cannot take the gold medal,” Kiplagat said.

Quizzed on what the federation had done to address the dramatic slide of the runner in the subsequent seasons after her 2008 commanding show that was crowned by her spectacular collapse at the semifinals of the Berlin World Championships, Kiplagat added;

“What is important is that she is back, we had not abandoned her. We did exactly what was expected of us to do in terms of moral support and motivation.”

In France Jelimo displayed signs of a return to form by finishing second to Moroccan Malika Akkaoui.

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From the gun, she gave a glimpse to the powerful front running that made her unassailable in her golden 2008 season and was in the frame for victory in the homestretch before Akkaoui closed in and beat the Olympics champion on the line in a world leading 1:59.01.

In that campaign, Jelimo, the last winner of the $1m IAAF Golden League jackpot before the circuit competition was replaced by the Samsung Diamond League, won all of the 13 races she started.

She became the first female Olympics track champion in the history of her nation when she led compatriot Janeth Jepkosgei to the 1-2 with 1:54.87, an event record.

Jelimo was disqualified in her first race of the year on February 10 after entering the longer 1,500m race.

Her last sub 2:00 showing over two laps was recorded at the Trials for the 2009 Berlin World Championships on July 25 where she clocked 1:59.49 to finish behind Jepkosgei.

That marked the last time she qualified to represent her country, missing the 2010 Africa Athletics Championships, 2010 Commonwealth Games and last year’s Worlds in Daegu.

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