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Svetlana Masterkova

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Svetlana Alexandrovna Masterkova (born January 17, 1968) is former Russian middle distance runner. At the 1996 Summer Olympics, she won the gold medal in both the 800 and 1500 m.

Born in Achinsk (Siberia), Masterkova started out as an 800 m runner. Her breakthrough came in 1991, winning the national championships of the Soviet Union, which also qualified her for the World Championships. In Tokyo, she came eighth in the final. The following seasons, she had some minor successes (silver at the World Indoor Championships), but also suffered from injuries. In 1994 and 1995, she took a break from running, giving birth to a daughter (Anastasia).

In 1996, she returned to athletics. In stead of only running the 800 m, Masterkova also decided to compete in the 1500 m, a distance she hadn't competed in for years. At the Russian Championships, she won both distances in top times. However, she wasn't considered as a real favourite for the Olympic gold; Maria Mutola and Ana Fidelia Quirot were expected to fight for the title in Atlanta. But Masterkova took the lead from the start, and led the entire race to become Olympic champion. After this surprise, Masterkova caused a major upset by also winning the 1500 m in a similar fashion, thereby equalling Tatyana Kazankina's performance at the 1976 Olympics (Kelly Holmes would repeat the performance in 2004). She completed her season by also setting two new world records, be it in two irregular distances (1000 m, mile).

Masterkova couldn't repeat her feat at the World Championships the next year, as an achilles tendon injury caused her to drop out in the heats of the 1500 m. Her 1998 season was great again, crowned by a win in the 1500 m at the European Championships. At the 1999 World championships, Masterkova again contested both middle distance events. She was beaten in the 800 m by Ludmila Formanova and placed third, but comprehensively won the 1500 m title. This would be her last major success. Although Masterkova participated in the Sydney Olympics, she abandoned her 1500 m heat, retiring at the end of the season.


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