Injury-plagued Jelimo let world down in 2009

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pamela Jelimo of Kenya celebrates after winning the women's 800 metres during the Golden Gala IAAF Golden League at the Olympic stadium in Rome July 11, 2008.

NAIROBI, Dec. 30 -- At the beginning of 2009, a world gripped by Jelimomania waited in bated breath to witness what lay in store from two-lap princess Pamela Jelimo.

Jelimo, who was born in the Kaptamok village, rose from total obscurity to global stardom in the space of eight months.

After storming to the African women's 800m title in April 2008 where she obliterated the legendary Maputo Express, Maria Mutola, Jelimo went on to establish a winning run that defied logic in her mystical year.

The soft spoken teenage phenomenon single handedly won the one million U.S. dollar IAAF Golden League jackpot (it was shared by four athletes this year), set the world junior record (1:54:01), remained unbeaten in 13 races and above all, became the first Kenyan female athlete to win Olympic gold in Beijing.

Her rise to the top coincided with that of Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt who at the grandest stage of all, the Olympics, defied all expectations to set world records over 100m and 200m that stood then at 9.69s and 19.30s respectively.

While Bolt picked from where he left to further lower his best marks to 9.58s (100m) and 19.19s (200m) in yet another season of dominance, Jelimo's campaign stuttered inviting questions whether she will go down in history as one of the greatest one hit wonders of all time.

In 2009, Jelimo made headlines with an astounding meltdown that culminated in the unwanted statistic of Did Not Finish on the blue tartan track of Berlin's Olympic stadium during the semifinals of women's 800m in August.

Jelimo was widely tipped to be the second woman in history after Mutola who took gold in Sydney 2000 Olympics and Edmonton World Championships a year later to hold both women 800m titles simultaneously.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei (R) runs to win the women's 800m race at the Nyayo stadium in Nairobi, July 25, 2009, during national trials to select the team for the Berlin World Championships next month. Kenya's Palmela Jelimo (2nd R) admitted she was under pressure to return to form from after being beaten by running mate Jepkosgei in the two-lap race at Kenyan trials on Saturday.

The Olympic 800m champion sparked apprehension on her form by finishing sixth (2:02.46) and last (2:05.57) in Rabat and at the Pre Fontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon meetings in May.

She recovered to win the KBC Night of Athletics (1:59.59) in Belgium before being forced to accept second by the 2007 world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Janeth Jepkosgei at the Kenyan Trials for Berlin World Championships.

That moment was telling since it was the first time that Jepkosgei had bettered Jelimo in a race after losing to the teenage prodigy on four occasions, including the Beijing women's 800m final.

So what happened to the running machine nicknamed "Kapsabet Express" less than six months after steamrolling all competition?

At the beginning of the year, her management, Golazo Sports andthe athlete disclosed that an Achilles injury had forced her to miss training for two months.

At the same period, her former coach, Said Aziz, was sacked by Golazo's management and initially replaced by retired distance athlete, Amos Korir, a brother to Barnaba before she was handled by Gregory Kilonzo, the trainer who was embroiled in a storm with Athletics Kenya (AK).

AK initially banned Kilonzo for life before he was pardoned upon appeal on charges of sneaking junior female runners abroad without consent of the federation. At the height of the storm, Golazo denied Kilonzo was coaching Jelimo despite video footage and photo evidence.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pamela Jelimo of Kenya reacts after winning in the women's 800m event at the IAAF Golden League athletics meeting at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich, August 29, 2008.

"The training program and focus she had last year were not followed by her managers this time and this could have led to inconsistent preparations. I do not think she was ready to compete this season," a senior coach in Kenya confided.

With the World Indoor Championships in Doha (March), Africa Senior Championships in Nairobi (July) and Commonwealth Games in India (October), 2010 offers Jelimo the chance to redeem herself.

Already, she has begun training for the season in Kapsabet, thearea where she crafted her meteoric rise forging what would be thesecond coming of the crown princess of 800m running.