Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Andre Bucher - 2001 World 800m Champion

2001 World 800m Champion Andre Bucher Interviewed by Alastair Aitken
ANDRE BUCHER joined his running club Lake Luzern, in Switzerland, when he was ten years old and first ran in a local race.
It was at the age of fifteen that he started to take athletics seriously. He qualified for the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Budapest in 1994. "I remember that as I came in the 90's out of 186 and was disappointed. I ran very badly. I realised that to be good at long distance I needed to be a good 1500m runner. I changed my training under my coach Andy Vojtly. whom I have been with for nineteen years now. I ran 3:48 for 1500 and qualified for the World Juniors."
Bucher came second in those Championships at Lisbon in July 1994 doing a time of 3:40.6 but, a very significant event happened the year before, when he ran 1:56.40 for his first ever 800m.
'It was a training race with the club and I had done no work for the middle distance at the time, as I hoped to be a long distance runner.'
He went on to obtain a degree at 21, as a primary school teacher, then went to Australia where he lived for a while, came back to study history at Berne University.
'The problem was with our university system, was that it is not made for being a serious athlete as you have to attend the lectures. I tried to do both. I wanted to have a social life as well as being an athlete not to do 24hours of running and studying. I did want to give 100% effort to my running so, I decided to do athletics full time. I had my degree and could do a job or study later on, when I ended my athletics career in my 30's. The Olympics were coming up so I wanted to do them'
In 1996 in Atlanta Bucher was fourth in the Semi-final of the 800m in 1:46.41 and ran 3:38.44 for 1500 that year. He improved  his 800m time to 1:45.3 in 1997. In 1998 he ran 1:44.96 and 1:42.92 in 1999. In 2000 in Sydney at the Olympics he was fifth in the final won by Nils Schumann of Germany in 1:45.08. Bucher's time was 1:45.40.
It was after that Andre Bucher had his 'Purple Patch'
It was 2001 and he describes that
'I was in great shape I could basically do whatever I wanted to tactically in my races and would nearly always win the race.'
In the World Championships in Edmonton Canada the first three in the final were:-
1 Andre Bucher in 1:43.70, 2nd was William Bungei (Kenya) 1:44.55 and 3rd Pavel Czaplewski (Poland) 1:44.63.
'It was a lucky race for me actually in 2001. Bungei was in the field. He had only one chance and that was by going out fast and running a fast race. I prefer that. I took up the lead with 300 to go and finished by winning in 1:43.17 which was quite good for a final of a World Championship and Bungei got the silver medal so, we both got lucky at the end and won medals, which was nice and that really completed the season for me'
Bucher had a stress fracture in the early part of 2002 but managed to come back to gain a silver medal in the European and ran a season's best in Brussels of 1:43.93 and he won the Grand Prix over 800 at Crystal Palace in 1:45.56.
What did he consider were the qualities of his coach then!
'He does not tell the athlete what he has to do. He is more a mentor and a guide to me than really standing there and saying you have to run faster. I think I am a pretty independent athlete. At this stage I can do my own training programme. He still overlooks it and we can discuss it."

Alastair Aitken

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