Nairobi, Kenya — Olympic women 800m champion, Pamela Jelimo, is wary of the imminent threat to her title defence in London possessed by Ethiopian sensation, Fantu Magiso.
Speaking after blazing the track for an effortless victory in the women 400m heats at the National Championships in Nairobi, Jelimo, 22, admitted defeat to the Ethiopian, 20, in Rome was an eye opener ahead of their anticipated showdown at the Olympics.
"I want to work on my speed and sharpness because the Ethiopian is there. I want to be at my best at the Olympics and to be a champion we have to be ready for her challenge in London.
"I urge the Kenyans not to underrate her threat and we need to work hard in our training since the challenge will be stiff," Jelimo said.
Jelimo assured she was confident in her shape as she prepares to mount a title defence on a season that has seen her rediscover some of the form that elevated her to an Olympics champions on her breakout season in 2008.
"It's very interesting that she has emerged but I'm focusing on my own race. What happened in 2008 is gone and I have endured injuries since then. The first thing is to work hard to ensure I make the Olympics team at the Trials next week.
"That is why I'm here running 400m that is originally my race to build on my speed so that I can have the strength to finish the race powerfully since you saw what happened in Rome which means that I have to be fit but I'm not concerned about my shape."
Magiso followed her Rome triumph over Jelimo achieved in 1:57.56 with victory in the New York Grand Prix in a national record of 1:57.48 to catapult her name among the frontrunners for the top medal at the Olympics.
The Kapsabet Express as Jelimo was nick named after her barnstorming 2008 when she added the defunct $1m (Sh85m in current exchange rates) IAAF Golden League jackpot however, holds the world leading 1:56.94 returned at the opening Samsung Diamond League meeting in Doha (May 15) where she had to come from behind to beat Magiso.
Jelimo won her country's first ever female track gold medal at the World Indoor Championships in March when she stopped the clock in a national record of 1:58.83 in Istanbul where Magiso finished ninth.
That was the first sign she was back after ensuring a string of set backs following her did not finish performance at the semi-finals of the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
Following Shanghai, Jelimo won the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting on May 25 in 1:58.49 where she best South Africa's 2009 World Champion Caster Semenya and Magiso to second and third.