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Pamela Jelimo: Olympic Champ at 800 Meters


Pamela Jelimo: Olympic Champ at 800 Meters

Pamela Jelimo

Michael Steele/Getty Images
Former sprinter Pamela Jelimo became the breakout track star of 2008 when she began running the 800 meters early in the season. Despite her lack of experience, she was clearly the class of the field in Beijing, winning the 800 in a world junior record time of 1:54.87. Later in the year she posted a personal best 1:54.01. Her momentum didn't continue into 2009, however. Jelimo was rarely among the leaders and failed to reach the final at the World Championships in Berlin.

A running start:

Jelimo began running at age 13 at the suggestion of her teachers in Kapsabet, Kenya. She became a solid sprinter, good enough to win the African junior 400-meter title in 2007, at age 17, with a time of 54.93. She also set a Kenyan junior record of 24.68 in the 200 meters.

From sprint to 800:

In 2007, Jelimo’s coaches recommended she try the 800 meters. In her first notable 800-meter race she finished in 2:01.02, at altitude in Nairobi, at the African Championship Trials in April, 2008. But that was just the beginning, as Jelimo proceeded to lower her times and make big waves in the track world through the spring and summer. She set a Kenyan junior record of 1:58.70 at the African Championships in May, then broke the world junior record with a 1:55.76 clocking at an IAAF World Athletics Tour event. She lowered her mark to 1:54.99 and then 1:54.97 at two later Golden League events.

The stats:

Pamela Jelimo (sometimes spelled “Chelimo”) was born on Dec. 5, 1989, in Kapsabet, Kenya. She's trained with fellow Kapsabet native Janeth Jepkosgei, the 2007 World Outdoor champion.


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