Olympics: Weyermann and Fischer reach semi-finals

Face in the crowd: Weyermann (third from left) scrapes into the semi-finals Keystone

Swiss middle-distance runners Anita Weyermann and Sabine Fischer have both qualified for the semi-finals of the women's 1,500 metres, although Weyermann faced a nervous wait to see if her time would be quick enough.

This content was published on September 27, 2000 minutes

A bronze medallist at the 1997 world championships, Weyermann has been a long way off her best this season, following a series of injuries and personal problems.

On Wednesday she was unable to secure an automatic place in the semi-finals after finishing the first of the heats in eighth place. But her time of 4'09"28 was enough to send her through as the second-quickest of the non-automatic qualifiers.

"I tried to qualify automatically, but the competition was really intense," said Weyermann whose heat was won by America's Suzy Favor-Hamilton in 4'08"08.

After fighting so hard to make it to Sydney, Weyermann seems to have accepted that anything more than a place in the semi-finals is likely to be beyond her at these Games.

"These heats were like a final for me," admitted the 22-year-old Bernese runner. "I'm still not very fast in the sprint."

Weyermann, though, took comfort from her qualification time. "I'm back to being among the world's top 24 1,500 metres runners," she said after the heats.

Rapperswil's Sabine Fischer finished fifth in her heat to qualify automatically for Thursday's semis, even though she actually ran a slower time (4'10"79) than Weyermann.

Making her Olympic debut, the 27-year-old runner was as excited as Weyermann to have reached the next round.

"Running in this stadium is something extraordinary," Fischer exclaimed after her heat. "I had goose bumps but knew that I would have to give it everything I had on the last stretch."

Wednesday was not such a good day for three of Switzerland's other athletes. Philipp Huber, Christian Belz and Mireille Donders all saw their Olympic campaigns come to an end almost as soon as they had begun.

Belz recorded the 20th fastest time in the heats for the 3,000 metres steeplechase with only the top fifteen going through to the final, while Mireille Donders was eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres sprint. Her time of 23"44 was just five hundredths of a second off the mark.

Huber was perhaps the most unfortunate of all, with a combination of illness and injury preventing him from continuing in the decathlon. Already suffering from a viral infection, Huber pulled out of the competition after just one event, having torn a muscle in his right thigh.

The 26-year-old athlete, who came 21st in the Olympic decathlon four years ago, had already been forced to rest for two weeks before the Sydney Games after injuring a muscle in his left thigh.

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