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Bucher signs off in style

Bucher (far right) leads the field in Melbourne


The Swiss 800m runner, André Bucher, has rounded off the athletics season in style by winning his race at the final Grand Prix meeting of the season in Melbourne, Australia. He thus becomes the first Swiss athlete ever to take the men's IAAF Grand Prix overall title.

Bucher rallied in the final stage of a tight 800m race to beat hurdler Allen Johnson by one point to the overall title.

The Swiss star, who this year took a share of the 50kg of gold ingots awarded to athletes who win five of the seven Golden League athletics meetings, entered the final event of the season trailing Johnson by two points in the standings.

But his victory was worth 24 points, while Johnson's second-place finish in the 110m hurdles earned him only 21 points.

By the end of the race in Australia, Bucher had earned a total of 102 Grand Prix points as well as a cheque for $150,000 (SFr251,700). $100,000 of the prize money comes from being the overall champion, while the remaining $50,000 is for winning on Sunday.

Bucher can look back with some satisfaction over the season just completed, which saw him win 11 of the 12 800m races he entered.

But Sunday's victory was hard-earned for the Lucerne-based athlete, who took an early lead in Melbourne before falling behind to his Russian opponent, Yuri Borzakovsky.

It was only after the final turn that Bucher sprinted into top gear, charging past Borzakovsky with 60 metres remaining to win the race with a time of 1:46.71.

"I had no choice but to rely on my sprint at the end," Bucher said after the race, "which was risky business as I knew that Yuri had a good kick."

"I would never have dreamt this could happen," he added.

"If someone had said all this would happen to me before the start of the season, I would have told them they were mad."

swissinfo with agencies

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