Series01 Apr 2017

That moment when… Buchel first cracked the two-minute barrier


Selina Buchel in the 800m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)

Two-time European indoor 800m champion Selina Buchel decimated her previous 800m personal best by more than two seconds at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris. The 25-year-old from Switzerland fondly reflects on that stunning breakthrough performance in the French capital and the significant role it played in her career.



“That night in Paris was the first time I had ever run under two minutes (for 800m). I had been in really good shape and I hoped to run under two minutes, but to run 1:57 was an amazing experience.

“Earlier that season I knew I was in good form. I had competed in a series of smaller races and set a PB of 2:00.14 in Oordegem. Then at the European Team Championships three weeks later, I started to have problems with my achilles tendon. For the week that followed I trained only on the bike and just three days before Paris I didn’t even know if I would compete.  But two days before the race, I completed a track workout and decided to run.

“It is never easy to get an invite to compete in such a quality race, so I was pleased to be given the chance to compete against the best in the world. I knew I was in good shape (despite the short period with the achilles niggle). I was in there to do my best and fight for a good time.

“The race went off at a fast pace and a group of about four or five athletes were in the lead group behind the pacemaker. I was in the second group, but the pace slowed at about 300 metres and I slowly made up the gap on the lead group. I remember passing either 400 or 500 metres and I was aware I was on for a pretty special time.

“It was strange that the final 300 metres did not feel too painful and I remember in the final metres moving up from fourth to third. I was initially elated simply to finish third in the race. I then saw that the race winner Eunice Sum had run 1:56.99, so I knew I must have run under two minutes.

“It was only in the mixed zone when a reporter told me I had run 1:57.95 for a national record was I aware of the time. I couldn’t believe it.

“It was crazy to think about. I didn’t think I could run such a time. This performance was so significant for me because it gave me a lot of self-confidence. Since then every time I train or line up for a race, I do so knowing I can run 1:57. Knowing I have done this once has given me the belief that I can do it again. This has been very important for my career.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF