News Archive

News Archive

Olympic Track Events (III): The 800 metres with Yuri Borzakovskiy

He has all the natural talent needed to win an Olympic gold medal but it comes

down to tactics. Yuri Borzakovskiy has already shown impressive form in this

Olympic season: having been beaten by Wilfred Bungei, the 2001 World

Championship silver medallist, who ran a world best for 2004 in Seville, the

23-year-old Russian took revenge on the Kenyan in the opening meeting of the

Golden League in Bergen in Norway.

"right" />But the 64,000 dollar question remains the same as before in his

brief career. Does he run the first lap too slowly, then try to win with his

speed in the home straight? Though he has shown variations of this tactic in

the last couple of seasons, he still prefers to leave it to the last lap. At

the 2003 World Championships in Paris, this tactic brought him

"merely" a silver medal: with 400m still to run, he was sixth but led

in the home straight, only to be beaten at the finish by the Algerian Djabir

Said-Guerni. At the Games in Athens, the challenge should also come from the

current World Indoor champion, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (South Africa) and the

Kenyans. We shall have to wait and see how Andre Bucher (Switzerland), the 2001

World champion, has recovered after an injury in last years outdoor season.

Also in question is the form of the world record holder, Wilson Kipketer

(Denmark), who showed last year that perhaps he is no longer the top man over



His style is all ease and grace. Success came early in winning the World

Youth 800m title in 1998 and achieving an impressive victory for Russia in the

European Cup the following year. Going into the 2004 outdoor season he had

twice broken the junior indoor world record as well as once the junior world

mark outdoors. He ran his outdoor personal best of 1:42.47 at the 2001 Golden

League meeting in Brussels. The previous year he broke the world junior record

with 1:44.38 in Dortmund.

He attracts praise and criticism in almost equal measure. Praise, certainly,

since how else could it be for a runner who set a European junior record in an

Olympic semi-final in Sydney? But there has also been criticism for the way he

ran in the final in 2000: Andre Bucher and Andrea Longo (Italy) led through the

first lap in 53.43, not a quick pace by any means, but Borzakovskiy was well

down. When Nils Schumann beat Wilson Kipketer to the gold medal, the Russian

trailed in sixth.

Borzakovskiy ran in the 2002 European Championships in Munich but in the

400m. His old rivals, Schumann, Bucher and Kipketer were racing over two laps

while the Russian qualified for the 400m semi-final. But finishing seventh

meant no place in the final for him. Sometimes he gave the impressive he was

doing a training session rather than competing at a championship.

He was back to his favourite distance in the 2003 World Championships in

Paris, beaten only by the Olympic bronze medallist Said-Guerni. Borzakovskiys

reaction was: "Im very happy with this result, it was a fantastic

race." He deservedly has the respect of all his rivals. Mbulaeni Mulaudzi,

the World Indoor champion from South Africa, discussed with his coach the

potential threat from Borzakovskiy before the championships in Budapest this

year. His coach, Makonde Makhumisane, summed the Russian up thus: "If you

let him have an inch, hell run away from you!"