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Bucher ready for home straight

Bucher takes some time out to meet some of his young fans in Zurich

(Keystone)

Less than ten days after winning gold at the world athletics championships in Edmonton, Lucerne's Andre Bucher is promising his fans another spectacle at Friday's Weltklasse Golden League meeting in Zurich.

"It's going to be a fast race," the 800 metres runner predicted after emerging from a secret training location where he said he had been able to recharge his batteries and train in peace.

"I don't want to say where it was, because I might need it again," grinned the 25-year-old world champion.

There will be no escaping the media glare and attention of the Swiss spectators on Friday, though, as Bucher bids to win his fourth Golden League race of the season.

Golden jackpot

His unbeaten record (Bucher did not compete at the Oslo meeting) has put the Swiss star in line for a share of the 50 kilogram gold jackpot, which is divided among any athletes who manage to win at five of the seven Golden League events.

The strength of the field at Switzerland's biggest athletics meeting will make for a stiff challenge, though. As well as facing all his Edmonton rivals again, Bucher is set to come up against young Russian talent Yuriy Borsakovkskiy who chose not to compete in the Canada championships.

While silver and bronze medallists Wilfred Bungei and Pawel Czapiewski will be looking to prove their performances in Edmonton were no fluke, Olympic gold medallist Nils Schumann of Germany will be keen to bounce back from his disappointing fifth place finish.

While Bucher's race will be the clear highlight of the evening for the majority of the Swiss fans, the Zurich meeting is also set to attract plenty of international interest.

26 world champions

With no less than 26 newly crowned world champions due to line up at the prestigious event, the organisers are justifiably referring to Friday's sporting extravaganza as "Edmonton in a day."

Russia's Olga Yegorova is expected to face a tough time as she returns to the track for the first time since her drug-tainted victory in the world championship 3,000 metres. Yegorova, who was allowed to compete in Edmonton on a technicality after testing positive for the banned substance EPO, is due to take on bitter rivals Gabriela Szabo and Paula Radcliffe.

American superstar Marion Jones will be looking to avenge her shock defeat by the Ukraine's Zhanna Pintusevich-Block in the Edmonton 100 metres, while America's Tim Montgomery is vowing to capitalise on the absence of injured world champion Maurice Greene in the men's sprint.

Romania's Violeta Szekely could become the first athlete to secure a share in the Golden League jackpot, having won the 1,500 metres at all four of the previous stages.

The spectators in Zurich will not get the chance to see Hicham El-Guerrouj taking part in his first ever 5,000 metres race, however. After playing with the idea of stepping up to the longer discipline, the Moroccan triple world champion over 1,500 metres has decided to stick with his regular event.

swissinfo with agencies

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