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Pamela Jelimo (born 5 December 1989) is a Kenyanmarker athlete specialising in the 800 metres. She won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She is the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal and also the first Kenyan to win the Golden League Jackpot. She holds both the 800 m world junior record and the senior African record over the same distance. Jelimo is also one of the youngest women to win an Olympic gold medal for Kenyamarker.She won that 800 m Olympic gold when she was only 18 years old.

Early life

Pamela Jelimo was born in Kiptamok village, Nandi District, Rift Valley Provincemarker. Her mother, Esther Cheptoo Keter, was a promising 200 metres and 400 metres runner but the customs of the Nandi tribe meant that as the last-born daughter she could not marry and had to care for her parents in their old age. However, she was allowed to bear children to different men thus Jelimo was raised by her mother in a family of three brothers and six sisters. Jelimo began running in 2003, aged 13, at Koyo Secondary in the Kaptumo division, near Kapsabetmarker. She quickly established herself as an accomplished athlete, winning at schools' championships in the 100 metres, 200 m, 400 m, 800 metres, 400 metres hurdles and heptathlon. Her high school games teacher Philip N'Geno remarked that she used to compete with the boys in sprint events as the girls did not provide the competition she needed.

The family was poor and struggled to pay the fees to send Jelimo to secondary school — her two older siblings had already dropped out as they were unable to meet the costs. She refused to quit and began selling milk from the family cattle to pay her fees, traversing steep slopes on foot to sell it at Chemase market. The school headmaster Daniel Maru donated money for track suits and running shoes so that Jelimo could attend Kenya's centre of excellence for distance running. By 2004, Jelimo had reached the local provincial championships in the 400 m. Maru continued his generosity, allowing the young athlete to graduate while she still owed one year's worth of fees. Still, her mother was forced to sell her last cow so Jelimo could take her exams.

In June 2007 she finished fifth in the 400 metres race at the Kenyan Championships with a time of 55.82 seconds. She kept improving throughout the season, winning the 400 metres gold medal at the African Junior Championships with a finish of 54.93 s and setting a Kenyan national junior record in the 200 m with 24.68 s. Jelimo was pleased with her accomplishments but her new coach Zaid Kipkemboi Aziz suggested that she change to 800 m, stating that she would perform best over the longer distance. She began working for the Kenyan police force and was training with fellow Kenyan runner Janeth Jepkosgei.

Jelimo ran her first 800 metres race on 19 April 2008 at the Kenyan trials for the African championships, clocking 2:01.02 minutes. Despite her budding athletics career, she continued to work at the Embumarker Police station as a police constable, earning KSh 11000 a month (roughly 100 ).

Rise to prominence

She made her breakthrough at the 2008 African Championships in Athletics aged 18. Her time, 1:58.70, was a new national junior record. On 25 May 2008 she won 800 metres at the Hengelomarker Grand Prix event and set a new Junior World Record of 1:55.76. The previous record (1:57.18) was set by Yuan Wang of Chinamarker in 1993. It was also a new Kenyan record, previously held by Janeth Jepkosgei (1:56.04 in 2007). On 1 June 2008 she ran an impressive 800 m race in Berlinmarker and won the ISTAF Golden League in 1:54.99, a new African record. The previous African record (1:55.19) was set by Maria Mutola in 1994.

On 18 July 2008 she bettered the record slightly to 1:54.97 in Parismarker. It was also her fourth consecutive win in ÅF Golden League, where she was one of only two remaining jackpot contenders, the other being high jumper Blanka Vlašić. On 18 August 2008 Jelimo won gold in the 800 metres at the Beijing Olympics. Her time was 1:54.87, again a record. She became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

She continued her unbeaten streak by winning the Weltklasse Golden League meeting in Zurich on 29 August 2008 improving her personal best to 1:54.01. This is the third fastest performance ever, behind Nadezhda Olizarenko and the world record of Jarmila Kratochvílová. At the Memorial van Damme competition in Brusselsmarker, the ÅF Golden League final, Jelimo won the 800 metres with a time of 1:55.16. As the only athlete to win the same event at all six Golden League meetings, she won the competition's jackpot of $1,000,000. The only other remaining, Blanca Vlasic, failed to win the last event. She is the first Kenyan to win Golden League jackpot.

She crowned her unbeaten season by winning her race at the 2008 IAAF World Athletics Final. After the event she returned to Kenya for the first time since the Olympic trials and was welcomed by major festivities. On 18 September 2008 in Kapsabet Town, a street – Pamela Jelimo Street – was named in her honour.

Jelimo was shortlisted for the IAAF World Athlete of the Year women's category alongside Yelena Isinbayeva and Tirunesh Dibaba, but the award was won by Isinbayeva. Jelimo was awarded the IAAF Revelation of the Year Award and the 2008 Kenyan Sportswoman of the Year Award.

She missed the 2009 indoor season due to achilles strain developed while training. Instead, she started her season in April at the Athletics Kenya meeting in Kakamegamarker, running 200 and 1500 metres races for training purposes. On 23 May she ran her first 800 metres race of the year at the Meeting International Mohammed VI in Rabatmarker, Moroccomarker, finishing sixth (time 2:02.46) – it was the first 800 m race that she did not win. Two weeks later she finished last at the Prefontaine Classic meeting in Eugene, Oregonmarker. Due to these dismal results, she concentrated on training for over a month. She successfully returned to track by winning the Heusden-Zoldermarker meeting on 18 July running under two minutes (1:59.59).

She competed at the 2009 World Championships, but did not finish her semi-final .

Personal life

Jelimo married Peter Kiprotich Murrey, who is also a 800 metres runner, in late 2007. They could not afford a grand wedding and instead had a simple civil ceremony. The marriage was not revealed in public until December 2008..


Personal bests

Date Event Venue Time
July 2007 200 metres Ouagadougoumarker, Burkina Fasomarker 24.68 secs
26 June 2008 400 metres Nairobimarker, Kenyamarker 52.78 secs
29 August 2008 800 metres Zürichmarker, Switzerlandmarker 1:54.01 mins
17 April 2009 1500 metres Kakamegamarker, Kenyamarker 4:19.31 mins
Correct as of 10 October 2008. All information from IAAF profile.

Competition record

Year Tournament Venue Result Extra
2007 African Junior Championships Ougadougoumarker, Burkina Fasomarker 3rd 200 m
1st 400 m
2008 African Championships Addis Ababamarker, Ethiopiamarker 1st 800 m
2nd 4x400 m relay
Olympic Games Beijing, Chinamarker 1st 800m
World Athletics Final Stuttgartmarker, Germanymarker 1st 800 m


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