NAIROBI, Kenya, August 11- Pamela Jelimo vacated the women 800m Olympics title as her Beijing bridesmaid Janeth Jepkosgei took the wooden spoon as Kenya’s heartache at London 2012 continued apace on Saturday night.
It was a shocking sight to behold for the country as her famed history makers four years ago paled under the fleet feet of Russian pair, Mariya Savinova (1:56.19) who dethroned Jelimo from the Olympics throne and compatriot Ekaterina Poistogova (1:57.53) who took the bronze with South Africa’s Caster Semenya homestretch sprint landing silver in 1:57.23.
The fading Beijing winner and world indoor champion came home in 1:57.19 for fourth as Jepkosgei (2:00.19) settled on propping the field from the rear as the ‘Kapsabet’ and ‘Eldoret’ expresses crashed out of the podium in London.
“I knew the Russians were very strong,” the dejected Jelimo told AFP. “What can you do? You have to accept that sometimes you are at the top and sometimes you are not. My body did not stick to the task, but for me it’s the best I can do.”
From the gun, the Osaka 2007 world champion, Jepkosgei, hit the front as she prefers as the field injected a brisk start to the medal affair as American Alysia Montano caught up and took over the lead at 400m in 56.31.
At the middle of the back straight, Jelimo surged ahead and opened up her strides to edge clear of the challengers to cross 600m at an impressive 1:25.89 but the Kapsabet Express circa 2012 does not possess the same thrust as the model that wowed the world in her breakthrough year of 2008 when she remained unbeaten in 13.
Her engine lost power as the came for the final bend and the Russian pair of Savinova and Poistogova took turns to catch up and accelerate past at the final bend and 50m to go respectively.
That signalled the end of Jelimo’s title defence as she spluttered from the gold position to end up just outside the medals.
Behind the front runners, Semenya, the 2009 World champion and last year’s silver winner adopted the curious tactic of sticking to the back of the field before she deployed a spirited charge for the finish that took her past all others apart from Saminova who had claimed the top medal by the time she arrived for silver.
Such was the ferocity of the speed Semenya came flying through that the commentator observed she still had a mile to run in her legs as she medalled at her debut Olympics.
Whilst the Kapsabet Express misfired close to the line, the Eldoret Express, a veteran of 14 medals for her nation, simply seized as they came for the finish as she propped the rear for the first time at a major championship, another disconcerting sight for such a faithful servant for Kenya over the years.
Jelimo’s was the third Olympics title Kenya surrendered in London following the loss of the men and women 1500m titles.
1 Mariya Savinova RUS 1:56.19 (SB)
2 Caster Semenya RSA 1:57.23 (SB)
3 Ekaterina Poistogova RUS 1:57.53 (PB)
4 Pamela Jelimo KEN 1:57.59 .
5 Alysia Johnson Montano USA 1:57.93 .
6 Elena Arzhakova RUS 1:59.21 .
7 Francine Niyonsaba BDI 1:59.63 .
8 Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei KEN 2:00.19