Two of the biggest names in Swiss athletics will be racing in front of a home crowd this weekend, with Andre Bucher and Anita Weyermann both hoping to put Olympic disappointments behind them at the national indoor championships in Magglingen.This content was published on February 21, 2001 - 15:19
The two middle-distance runners are both hoping to get back to their best this season after various disappointments last year.
Despite recording the fastest 800 metres time in the world and winning his race at the Golden League meeting in Zurich, Bucher surprisingly failed to win a medal at the biggest event of them all, the Sydney Olympics.
Weyermann's season was even more traumatic. After suffering a series of injuries and personal problems (including the sacking of a coach who just happened to be her father) the Bernese runner managed at least to qualify for Sydney but was never in any position to contend for a medal.
"I hope I'm getting back to my best now," Weyermann told swissinfo on Wednesday. "I've had some good winter training sessions in Mexico. I still need a lot of time to get back in shape, though."
Weyermann admits that she has not been particularly good at taking her time to recover in the past, but insists that she has learnt from last season.
"I have never been one to wait," she smiled. "Even when I've been sick or injured I've stuck to may training programme. Sometimes that's been too much and it's put me a step back. So, yes, I'm going to have to be more patient."
In line with her new philosophy, Weyermann plans to run one more race after Magglingen before deciding whether to curtail her winter programme and begin gradual preparations for the summer. Bucher on the other hand is well into his stride after winning all three of his indoor races this season, and is already concentrating on April's indoor world championships in Lisbon.
"I'm very pleased with the start I've made to my first full indoor season," Bucher told swissinfo. "After coming back from Mexico, where we were training at 2,000 metres, I had just six days to acclimatise myself to Europe. So I was just happy to be able to run fast and put in some good runs."
At Magglingen Bucher will be running in the 400 metres rather than in his specialised 800 metres discipline. He took the decision with a view to further practising his starts and also to give himself a greater challenge than that which he would face in the 800 metres.
"I'm excited about the Swiss championships because it will be my first 400 metres race indoors," Bucher said. "The other competitors are very strong, and they're all at about the same level right now, so it should be very interesting."
As he looked ahead to this season's challenges, Bucher admitted that he had not yet put his disappointment in Sydney out of his mind, but the Lucerne runner insisted that he had managed to put the experience in perspective.
"I didn't have any problem getting back into focus after Sydney," Bucher recalled. "I was disappointed not to win an Olympic medal, but after a week or two I told myself that I'd had a really good season and that there were a lot more things to look forward to.
"This year there are the world championships as well as the Golden League meetings, so I thought what else is there to do but to try and do it all again and run a good season - so here I am."
The 2004 Olympics may be a far-off destination but this weekend's Magglingen championships may be as good a place to start from as any. Both Weyermann and Bucher have enjoyed some of their greatest moments on home soil and both believe there could be many more yet to come.
by Mark Ledsom
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