Svetlana Masterkova celebrates her 1999 World Championships 1500m win (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Masterkova and Gataullin announce their retirements

Russia's Svetlana Masterkova, the 1996 Olympic 800m and 1500m champion has announced her retirement, concluding an illustrious international career which stretched back to the 1985 European Junior championship in Cottbus, where she took sixth place at 800m.

Masterkova who celebrated her 35th Birthday on 17 January 2003, as well being only the second woman in history to win an Olympic middle distance double, set the current World records at 1000m (2:28.98) and the Mile (4:12.56), and topped the world lists at 800m and 1500m in that all conquering year of 1996.

While injury forced her to limp home in her semi-final at the 1997 World Championships, a year later she was back near her very best at 1500m, achieving wins at the European Championships, IAAF World Cup and Goodwill Games in 1998.

In 1999, at the World Championships in Seville, Masterkova hampered by an ankle injury first contested the 800m and took a brave bronze behind Maria Mutola and Ludmila Formanova. Then five days later sprinted home to win the 1500m gold in marvellous style. Masterkova finished off the year heading the world lists at both 800m and 1000m, and was second at 1500m to Romania’s Violeta Szekely.

At an official goodbye party given at Moscow’s Znamensky Indoor stadium on 7 January 2003 to recognize her achievements, Masterkova who now works as a sports commentataor for the Russian NTV+ sports channel, was honoured by various city and national dignitaries.

With characteristic determination honed as an athlete, Masterkova’s new career is set to flourish, for as her coach Svetlana Styrkina commented “Masterkova will never be an average commentator because she always does her job only excellently!”

Radion Gataullin, the double European champion (1990 and 1994), and 1988 Olympic silver medallist at the men’s Pole Vault, has also finished his career. The 37-year-old marked the end of his career at the St. Petersburg city championships during the weekend of 18-19 January 2003. However, Gataullin will stay in close touch with the sport having been appointed as National Pole Vault coach for Russia.