19 years ago, André Bucher wrote one of the most successful chapters in the history of Swiss athletics in Edmonton to date.
On August 7, 2001, André Bucher delivered the perfect race in Edmonton. In the second round of the World Cup final over 800 m, the Lucerne man took the lead on the back straight and gave his rivals no chance.
“The final went as I had imagined it in my most beautiful dreams,” he said afterwards. To this day he is the only Swiss world champion in a running discipline.
A disappointment as an initial spark
19 years ago, Bucher was the clear favorite in the 800 m final. The Kenyan Wilfred Bungei made a quick first round in 50.41, which played into the cards for the now 43-year-old. Ultimately, it was necessary to prevent strong sprinters like the German Nils Schumann, the Pole Pawel Czapiewski and the South African Hezekiel Sepeng from being able to show their ultimate speed.
Bucher did not want to experience a disappointment at the Olympic Games in Sydney, as he did a year earlier. In that final, like in Edmonton, he was the best of the year. After the slow first lap (53.43), he was pushed onto the grass by the later disqualified Italian Andrea Longo about 200 m from the finish line.
Bucher entered the home straight in second place, but he lacked the lost power in the final sprint and fell back to 5th place. Nevertheless, he now has good memories of the 2000 Olympic Games. Bucher did not quarrel; on the contrary, 5th place gave him the decisive boost for the last step to the top of the world.
2001: Bucher’s dream year
The result is well known, in 2001 he not only won World Cup gold in 1: 43.70 minutes, but also dominated this year at will. He was the first Swiss to secure overall victory in the Grand Prix, took part in the jackpot of the Golden League at the time and at Weltklasse Zürich achieved the Swiss 800m record that is still valid today with a time of 1: 42.55 minutes – he is in the all-time list of the best this time number 17.
As a reward for his strong performance, he was named Swiss Sportsman of the Year and European Athlete of the Year.