(AFP) – Sep 16, 2008
NAIROBI (AFP) — Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo late on Tuesday caused a big media stampede on arrival back home as the clamour to grab a piece of Kenya's athletics millionaire nearly turned ugly.
Local and foreign journalists pushed and shoved each other to get a shot of the teenage sensation but were fought back by a team of police officers who had thrown a cordon around their fellow policewoman.
Jelimo, who became the first Kenyan athlete to win the one million-dollar Golden League jackpot, appeared shaken by the whole episode.
"I am humbled by the reception," said Jelimo after being allowed to get over the circus. "My performance should serve as a motivation for the youth. We need to do something to motivate them."
The 18-year-old, who in Beijing made history as the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic track gold when she won the 800m, finished the season unbeaten after winning all the six meet races.
The crowning of her first season came when she pocketed the jackpot in the wet conditions at the Brussels meeting to take the prize, awarded to the athlete who wins all of their six Golden League outings.
Sports Minister Hellen Sambili said "the sky is the limit" for Jelimo to improve her status in 2009.
Her millionaire status has spurred a fascination in the country where majority of at least 35 million people live under a dollar a day, with some carrying placards saying "Marry Me Jelimo."
An elaborate reception is planned in her hometown in the Rift Valley province later this week, where villagers are expected to feast on beef and milk.
Kenyan authorities have meanwhile beefed up security for Jelimo days after robbers armed with machetes and guns raided the home of Kenya's Olympic marathon gold medallist Samuel Wanjiru and demanded money.
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