Milcah Chemos en route to an African record in Oslo (Mark Shearman) © Copyright

Women's 3000 Metres Steeplechase - PREVIEW

Gulnara Galkina, winner of the first women's Olympic 3000m Steeplechase title and who did it fantastically running the World's first - and only - sub nine minutes time, will defend her title.

Galkina, who took time out of athletics to have a baby daughter Alina in June 2010, had prior to that set three Steeplechase World records including the ultimate mark of 8:58.81 which won her the title in Beijing four years ago.

The 34-year-old, who has only run 9:24.60 this summer but will no doubt make considerable inroads into that time in London, joins up with fellow Russian Yuliya Zaripova last year's World champion.

Zaripova stunned her opponents in Dageu last year when with a gun-to-tape performance she clinched the title ahead of Tunisian Habiba Ghribi and the pre-championships favourite Milcah Chemos of Kenya.

Both Ghribi and Chemos, who leads the World rankings with the personal best 9:07:14 she achieved at the Oslo Samsung Diamond League in July, will be older and wiser from that experience, particularly the latter.

Chemos after the surprise of finishing third at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin as a rookie was deeply disappointed last year when not winning the title where she never challenged Zaripova's dominance of the race.

But Chemos, after that setback and revealing she will be keeping a closer eye on her main opponent in London, said: "This year, I feel great especially after improving on my personal best time. It has given me a lot of motivation especially in an Olympic year."

The 26-year-old, who missed the Samsung Diamond League meet in Monaco to concentrate on her Games challenge, added: "I feel confident that the training and endurance sessions I have undertaken are enough to prepare me for greater things in London."

Chemos, although having held ascendancy over the Ethiopian pair of Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, knows her two Ethiopian rivals who have season's bests of 9:09.00 and 9:09.61 will raise their game but that Zaripova will be the biggest problem.

That could see Chemos, who has always felt she has the ability to run sub-nine minutes, push the pace even faster than the Russian whose season's best is 9:09.99 did a year ago, to ensure she can celebrate by matching the dominance of Kenya's male steeplechasers.

Joining her in an experienced team will be Lydia Rotich, fifth in Daegu whose best this summer sits at 9:31.09, and Mercy Njoroge who will fetch a mark of 9:25.21 into the Games.

Apart from the Russians Turkey's Gulcan Minqir could be a major European contender having a time of 9:13.53 under her belt while the host nation's Barbara Parker (9:24.24) is getting better with each race and home support could lift her game.

David Martin for the IAAF