Pamela Jelimo produces a superhuman effort to destroy the field in the 800m (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Rabat, Morocco

Beijing Olympic winners Jelimo, Ohuruogu and Kanter top Rabat line-up – PREVIEW

No less than seven medallists from the last Olympic Games in Beijing, including three champions Pamela Jelimo, Christine Ohuruogu, and Gerd Kanter will compete in the second meeting of the Meeting Mohammed VI d' Athlétisme (CAA Super Grand Prix) scheduled for Saturday 23 May on the beautiful track at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sporting complex in Rabat.

The Meeting Mohammed VI d' Athlétisme is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 12-13 September in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Abdeslam Ahizoune, the President of the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation of Athletics, who is organising this event under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, said this year’s meeting "will be significantly improved compared to the previous edition last year which was already at a very high level."

Jelimo to make her international season's debut

Kenyan Pamela Jelimo, the Beijing Olympic 800m champion, who last year also won the AF Golden League Jackpot of $1 Million, and was victorious in the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, was the revelation of 2008. She will undoubtedly be the main attraction in a meeting that will see the participation of athletes from 36 countries plus a host of renowned Moroccan athletes, across a programme of 15 events.

Jelimo, who opened her 2009 season in Kakamega, Kenya on Friday 18 April with a 1500m victory (4:19.31) in an Athletics Kenya weekend meeting, hopes to begin her international campaign with a victory in Rabat.

"I am well prepared and I expect to take victory in Morocco," she stated to the Moroccan Press Agency (MAP). "I feel more relaxed, unlike last year when I was concentrating on securing victories to win the Jackpot (AF Golden League Jackpot of $1 Million)," said Jelimo.

Bungei injured

Jelimo’s compatriot Wilfred Bungei, the men’s Olympic 800m gold medallist in Beijing, who was originally announced for the meeting confirmed on Monday (18) that due to injury he had to pull out.

"I have contracted an injury to the tendon in my right leg that requires me to stay away from the track for several weeks," he said. "I am deeply disappointed as I have made long preparations to start my season on African soil." Bungei will be "absent from the track at least until 15 June before deciding my programme for the remainder of the season."

Ohuruogu and Kanter and host of other Beijing medallists

Two other Beijing Olympic champions, Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu the women's 400m winner and Estonian Gerd Kanter, the Discus Throw champion, both of whom also took the 2007 World titles in their respective events are the other standout names in Rabat.

Others committed to the meeting are Ukraine’s Olympic 1500m silver medallist Iryna Lishchynska, South Africa’s Long Jump silver medallist Godfrey Khotso Mokoena,  and Kenya’s 3000m Steeplechase bronze medallist Richard Mateelong.

Moroccan Hasna Benhassi, 800m bronze medallist in Beijing and silver medallist in Athens in 2004, is the local standout. Morocco will also be represented by Abdalaati Iguider, the former World Junior champion, who was 6th at 1500m at the Olympic Games in Beijing and was overall fourth fastest in the world in 2008 (3:31.88); Mohamed Moustaoui (1500m), who was fourth in the recent Doha meeting (3:33.40), Meryem Alaoui Selsouli, the 2008 World Indoor bronze medallist at 3000m, Mouhssin Chehibi, fourth in the 2004 Athens Olympics 800m, and Amine Laalou, a semi-finalist in Beijing over 800m who will run the 1500m for the first time.

Among the VIP guests of this second edition of the Mohammed VI International meeting will be IAAF President Lamine Diack and the President of the African Athletics Confederation, Col. Hamad Kalkaba Malboum.

Mohammed Benchrif for the IAAF