The Swiss athletics star, André Bucher, has said he is fully prepared for the World Athletics Championships which open in Edmonton on Friday.This content was published on August 3, 2001 - 19:15
More than 1,800 of the world's elite athletes from over 200 countries, including American sprint stars Maurice Greene and Marion Jones, have arrived in the Canadian city for the 10-day premier track-and-field event.
All eyes in Switzerland, however, will be focused on Bucher. The Lucerne-based player, who has run the world's best time in the 800m this year, will be setting his own sights on a gold medal in Edmonton when he heads for the starting line.
At a press conference one day prior to Friday's opening ceremony, Bucher denied speculation that he is most fearful of being beaten by the 2000 Sydney Olympics 800m champion, Germany's Nils Schumann.
"A number of African athletes have run times this year which Schumann has never managed to achieve," Bucher said.
Fifth in the 800m in Sydney last summer, Bucher will once again be facing strong competition from Schumann and the South African athlete, Hezekiel Sepeng, who beat Bucher to take fourth place in the summer Olympics.
"I think that Sepeng and Nduwimana are stronger than the German," the 24-year-old maintained.
The Swiss star has had an impressive season to date, setting the fastest time in the world so far this year at last month's Golden League athletics meeting in Monte Carlo, when he won the race in 1:42.90.
Bucher, who arrived in Edmonton on Thursday following final training preparations in Calgary, was upbeat about his chances of success when he hits the starting block in the 800m qualifying heats on Saturday.
"I think there is a big difference between last year and this year. Last year, I won a couple of races but I also lost a couple of races during the season," he said.
"This year so far I've been unbeaten, which doesn't mean the others are not as good as they were last year, but I think I've improved on last year and I'm certainly feeling stronger."
Swiss attention in Canada is also likely to focus on Sabine Fischer, who is scheduled to compete in the women's 1500m.
Fischer's trainer, the former 1500m record-holder Cornelia Bürki, says last-minute preparations for Edmonton have been going well.
"We managed a good few days of training in Calgary," Bürki said, " and Sabine is mentally fully prepared."
The 28-year-old will be looking to improve on her performance in Sydney, where she established her presence on the international athletics circuit with a ninth-place finish in the 1500m finals.
Fischer suffered a setback in her training programme prior to Edmonton, following a stress fracture in her left foot.
But the Rapperswil-based athlete will be hoping to put any injury worries behind her as she warms up for the world championships.
Christian Belz, the Swiss 3000m steeplechaser, will be doing well to get past the qualifying rounds in Edmonton, while men's 1500m runner, Alain Rohr, would also be delighted with a place in the finals.
swissinfo with agencies
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