March, 03. 2002
defeats Graf and smashes World Record – High Five for Feofanova
Sean Wallace-Jones for the IAAF
March 2002 – Vienna, Austria – It was time for the race that most of
the Austrian population had been waiting for, but few in the packed Ferry
Dusika Hallenstadion here in Vienna would have predicted the outcome.
Austria’s darling Stephanie Graf was lining up against 5 athletes in the
final of the women’s 800 metres, but this was really a two women race,
with only Jolanda Ceplak from Slovenia able to challenge the Austrian
And that it just what
Ceplak did – and more.
Going straight into the
lead at the gun, Ceplak led Graf around the track until the two leaders
came into the back straight, when Graf started to move out, gradually
pushing past the Slovenian and leading into the final bend, but as the two
cam into the home straight with Graf narrowly in the lead, the unexpected
happened. Ceplak started to come back and powering towards the line edged
ahead of Graf to beat the Austrian for the line and set a new world record
of 1 minute 55.82 seconds, demolishing Christine Wachtel’s (GDR) record
of 1:56.40 set in this very stadium on 13 February 1988.
had to settle for silver and a new national record for Austria of 1:55.85.
A delighted Ceplak said
afterwards: “I gave everything I had, as I understood that I was getting
close to the world record and that was my main goal. I was really shaking
because the crowd was cheering for Graf.
“A fast race was
convenient for both of us, so I went for it telling myself ‘if I die, I
die.’ All the hard work I have done this winter finally paid off.”
Graf was gracious in
defeat: “It was a perfect race, I took the lead 100 metres before the
finish, but Jolanda was physically better today.
made a big show for the fans, both under the world record. Now this is my
third silver - the consequence is: I have to change my manager.”
(Both Ceplak and Graf are managed by Robert Wagner).
The Ceplak effect played
over into the men’s 800 metres, as the man the commentator had described
as “Switzerland’s Stephanie Graf” , Andre Bucher lived up to the
nickname today, suffering a surprise defeat in the final metres at the
hands of Polish runner Pawel Czapiewski.