Kenya's Pamela Jelimo, the defending Olympic 800-meter champion, made a bid to return to the top in 2012 and she nearly made it. Jelimo, who practically fell off the map after her wondrous season as an 18-year-old in 2008, made an admirable comeback this year, winning the World Indoor Championship gold medal and earning the Diamond Race title in a close battle that featured five different winners in the seven-race series. But Russia's Mariya Savinova was at her best when it counted the most and captured the big prize, the Olympic gold medal. Jelimo led the 800-meter final in London before fading to fourth, while Savinova posted the world's best time, 1:56.19, to cross the line first. South Africa's Caster Semenya, also making a comeback of sorts following her earlier gender identification controversy, charged hard but too late and finished second behind Savinova in London.
Mariem Selsouli of Morocco won the year's fastest 1500-meter race, taking the July 6 Paris event in a world-leading 3:56.15. The race produced four of the year's top seven times. None of those top seven were posted at the Olympics. Indeed, the fastest Olympic race was the first semifinal, won by Ethiopia's Abeba Aregawi in 4:01.03. The final was disappointingly slow to most fans outside of Turkey, but was a delight to the Turks who took the top two spots, Asli Cakir Alptekin (4:10.23) and Gamze Bulut (4:10.40). Earlier in the year, Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia won the World Indoor crown, followed by Selsouli and Cakir. Aregawi earned three victories to capture the Diamond League title.
Yuliya Zaripova made Russia 2-for-2 in Olympic women's steeplechase gold by winning the London final in the world's second-fastest time of the year, 9:06.72. Zaripova also had the year's top time, 9:05.02, in Stockholm shortly after the Olympics. Kenya's Milcah Chemos was third on the 2012 list and came away with the Diamond League title after winning the first three races in the series.