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Swiss hurdler Schelbert forced out of Olympics

Schelbert qualifying for the Olympics at the Weltklasse meeting in Zurich. Keystone / Michele Limina

The Swiss 400 metres hurdler, Marcel Schelbert, has been forced to pull out of next month's Olympics after partially tearing his achilles tendon during Friday's Golden League meeting in Brussels.

After hearing that his season had come to a premature end, the 24 year-old-athlete has decided to undergo an operation on the injury later this week. The bad news completes a season of misery for Schelbert who was out of action until late July with a previous injury.

Despite his set-backs, Schelbert appeared to have beaten the odds when he reached the Olympic qualifying limit during an emotional night earlier this month at the Weltklasse meeting in Zurich. The time of 49.49 seconds was, however, a long way off the Swiss record which he set at the World Championships in Seville, and an Olympic medal seemed unlikely.

Nevertheless, confirmation that a medal is now impossible seems to have hit Schelbert hard. “We are naturally very disappointed,” said his trainer, Andreas Hediger. “When you’re having no luck at all, misfortune seems to follow.”

Following his bronze at the World Championships, Schelbert was named Swiss Sportsman of the Year in 1999. Under normal circumstances his withdrawal from the Olympics would have had devastating consequences for the men’s 4×400 metre relay team. But this year Schelbert has not even made it into the fastest four Swiss times.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR