28 JUL 2012 Preview

Women's 800 Metres - PREVIEW

1:56.76 for Pamela Jelimo in Heusden-Zolder (Nadia Verhoft)1:56.76 for Pamela Jelimo in Heusden-Zolder (Nadia Verhoft) © Copyright
At the age of 18 Pamela Jelimo was the youngest gold medallist in Beijing when she decimated a highly experienced 800 metres field to notch a stunning victory by almost a second-and-a-half with a World Junior record time of 1:54.87.

Jelimo who post-Olympics lowered that Commonwealth and African record to 1:54.01 in Zurich for third on the World All-Time list went off the boil after that momentous season when she also received the "Revelation of the Year" award but now has returned to global class form with a vengeance.

Kenya's first ever woman to capture Olympic gold flew to the World Indoor 800m title in March and following that success has produced five more sub-two minute marks outdoors including her World leader of 1:56.76 in Heusden-Zolder at the beginning of July.

Jelimo, who has been training with her two team-mates Janeth Jepkosgei who led from start to finish to capture the 2007 World title in Osaka and Cherono Koech at their preparation camp in Kasarani, said: "What is important is to retain my title.

"I know it will be a great pressure but I believe in myself. The body is moving well, the morale is good, then what is important is to remain focused."

Identifying her main rivals to be last year's World champion Mariya Savinova of Russia, her predecessor South Africa's Caster Semenya and the rapidly emerging Ethiopian teenager Fantu Magiso who beat everyone at the Rome Samsung Diamond League meet in May as the biggest threats, she has adopted a positive approach.

Jelimo, aiming to become the first woman to win two Olympic 800m titles, insisted: "I don't fear them. They are not new to me. Some of them we have run together in Samsung Diamond League races and I know where to apply my tactics."

The Kenyan assistant team captain - World 800m record holder David Rudisha will lead the African nation - added: "I know everybody has her tactics for the race but I will just run my own race."

This season Savinova (1:58.56) finished behind Jelimo (1:58.33) when beaten in Rome on an occasion when the unknown Magiso trumped a superb field with her unbelievable Ethiopian record of 1:57.56, one she lowered nine days later to 1:57.48 in New York.

However Savinova is a seasoned campaigner also having World Indoor plus European Indoor and outdoor gold medals to her name and having ran 1:57.42 during the Russian Trials at the beginning of July is clearly going to be a strong contender.

Semenya the 2011 World silver medallist has struggled to find her best form having ran a season's best of only 1:59.18 but believes with the inspiration provided by Nelson Mandela and coaching expertise of Maria Mutola the 2000 title winner, she can lift her game.

Magiso who started the season with a PB 1:59.17 could on form be the one to upset the applecart and with two big wins to her name on the SDL circuit adding to her credibility, clearly has the ability to run faster than the 1:57.48 she posted despite the windy conditions in New York.

Throw in Jepkosgei and the USA's Alysia Johnson Montano, third and fourth in last year's Worlds with 1:57.79 and 1:57.37 marks to their names this season, plus the Russian second and third strings Ekaterina Kostetskaya (1:57.46) and Elena Arzhakova (1:57.67) there are plenty in the frame to cause an upset.

David Martin for the IAAF