Saturday, September 06, 2008

Millon Dollar Baby

When the IAAF Golden League Jackpot disciplines were designated last December, high jumper Blanka Vlasic was in the midst of what would become the longest unbeaten streak in the sport. And Pamela Jelimo, a virtually unknown quantity even in her native Kenya, had yet to contest her first 800m race.
Yet when the six-meeting series concluded at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels tonight, it was Jelimo who would survive the grueling 14-week battle to win the $1 Million Jackpot, athletics biggest prize.
“I am happy, I realised my dream,” said Jelimo, who became the first sole winner of the prize since Tatyana Lebedeva went six-for-six in 2005. “This is the same happiness as in Beijing.”
So dominant was the precocious 19-year-old this year that perhaps the most difficult part of her Jackpot chase was waiting for the conclusion of the women’s High Jump, where Vlasic, her co-contender after five meetings, was struggling in one of the most compelling field event competitions of the year.
In the 800, Jelimo went fast from the gun, tailing pacesetter Svetlana Klyuka from the outset. By 400m, Klyuka, was fourth at the Olympic Games, was already labouring to keep a step ahead of the Kenyan; at the 600m mark, she finally stepped aside, with Jelimo then sailing home in 1:55.16, more than three-and-a-half seconds clear of runner-up Janeth Jepkosgei.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

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