80 Years of History

Overview Meeting Records Weltklasse Zürich

Overview World Records Weltklasse Zürich

Weltklasse Zürich stands for more than 80 years of athletics history. The very first edition in 1928 featured one of the sport's legends: nine-time Olympic Champion Paavo Nurmi. Countless top stars have given it their best in the Letzigrund Stadium since then. A glance at the timeline and some milestone memories:

1928: On 12 August 1928, the first international meeting is held in the Letzigrund Stadium. 3,000 spectators are cheering when nine-time Olympic Champion Paavo Nurmi wins the 5000m race in 15:18.3. In the 400m hurdles, Hans Schneider sets a new Swiss record of 56.4.

1949: The very first Letzigrund world record cannot be ratified: The shot James Fuchs uses for his 17.96 throw, is found to be too light. The 13,000 spectators attending watch athletics competitions, the line-up includes two Olympic Champions and two world record holders - and a football match, Young Fellows vs. FC Nürnberg.

1958: The newly built Letzigrund Stadium is designed for 23,000 spectators. The inaugural meeting takes place in pouring thundershowers.

1959: The meeting is named after its motto: Weltklasse Zürich. 10,842 people watch 22-year-old Martin Lauer from Cologne setting the first two Letzigrund world records. He clocks 13.2 in the high hurdles, and storms to 22.5 in the 200m two hours later.

1960: On 21 June, Armin Hary of Germany becomes the first human being to run the 100m in 10.0. As the first race is annulled, the 23-year-old sprinter has to repeat his exploit: he finishes in 10.0 again the second time around, thereby laying the foundation for the fame and prestige of the Zurich 100m stretch.

1965: For the first time, female athletes compete at Weltklasse Zürich. 16-year-old Meta Antenen sets a new Swiss record in the 80m hurdles in 11.4.

1968: The first meeting on a new track. The Letzigrund Stadium features the first synthetic track in Europe.

1969: Sprinter Philippe Clerc from Lausanne runs 20.3 in the 200m - a new European record.

1974: Electronic timing, and live coverage by Swiss national TV are introduced.

1975: A record number of 21,700 spectators attend Weltklasse Zürich.

1981: Two world records on one night: Renaldo Nehemiah flies to 12.93 in the high hurdles, while Sebastian Coe runs the mile in a new world record mark of 3:48.53. For the first time in its history, BBC interrupts its evening news, and goes live to Coe's race.

1981: UBS becomes main sponsor. The meeting attracts 24,844 spectators.

1983: The Weltklasse Zürich budget exceeds one million Swiss francs for the first time.

1985: The Swiss middle distance runner Pierre Délèze runs a sensational 1500m race beating the great Sebastian Coe.

1988: Harry Butch Reynolds lowers the 20-year-old 400m world record by 0.57 seconds to 43.29. And Carl Lewis wins the 100m duel against Ben Johnson. One year later, his winning time of 9.93 becomes a world record, after Johnson is found guilty of doping violation and his mark is annulled.

1992: Carl Lewis, a favourite of the Zurich fans, clocks 10.07 and wins the 100m for the sixth and last time.

1994: 5.3 litres of rain per square metre between 8.40 p.m. and 9.40 p.m. - torrential conditions in the Letzigrund Stadium.

1995: For the first time in 14 years, two world records are set: Moses Kiptanui becomes the first athlete to run the 3000m SC in a sub 8 minutes time. Later on in the evening, he loses his 5000m world record to Haile Gebrselassie.

1997: An unparalleled world record night: Wilson Kipketer (800m), Wilson Boit Kipketer (3000m SC), and Haile Gebrselasse (5000m) collect world records number 21 to 23 in the meeting's history. In addition, Marcel Schelbert (400m h) and Anita Weyermann (3000m) set two new Swiss records.

2000: A Swiss winner, after six years: André Bucher wins the 800m race.

2001: André Bucher returns home to the Letzigrund Stadium as the first World Champion in track and celebrates his second win and a new Swiss record. To this day, it has been the last win of a Swiss athlete in the meeting's main programme.

2006: The legendary Letzigrund Stadium experiences its 24th and last world record. Just like the first one, it is a sprint record: Asafa Powell equals his own mark of 9.77. Only days later, the stadium is torn down.

2007: The new athletics arena opens its gates for the inaugural meeting. The event is sold out within a matter of hours; more than 26,000 spectators create a spectacular setting for a special gala.

2008: Usain Bolt, three-time world record holder and newly-crowned Olympic Champion, makes his first appearance after the Games. The eyes of the athletics world are on the Letzigrund Stadium as Bolt confirms his current sprint supremacy.

2009: In a sold-out arena, pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva clears 5.06m setting the 25th world record in the history of Letzigrund Stadium. The Russian athlete provides for one of the night’s highlights, for once even outshining Usain Bolt, who had drawn 5 000 fans to Zurich’s main station for an autograph session the previous day. The Swiss 4x100m relay team (Mancini, Schneeberger, Schenkel, Cribari) pulverises the Swiss record in 38.78, and 14-time Paralympics champion Heinz Frei concludes his career on track with a final 3000m wheelchair race.

2010: It is a meeting for the local stars. Lisa Urech comes in 4th in the 100m h race, and long jumper Irene Pusterla even climbs the podium placing 3rd. At the end of the evening, the men’s 4x100m relay team delights the Zurich fans with their performance in the Zurich Trophy. American Jeremy Wariner runs a world leading time in the 400m.

2011: Just after the world championships in Daegu, newly-crowned 100m world champion Yohan Blake of Jamaica confirms his reign in the 100m with a win. Local hurdler Lisa Urech’s appearance ends at the first hurdle. One of the highlights of the night is again the Swiss men’s 4x100m relay team, who sets a new national record (38.62). The new record mark will not be ratified later on, however, as Pascal Mancini, who had been running the first leg, is not able to provide the required international permission for a medication he had received.

2012: Despite cool, rainy conditions, Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake treat the audience with a fantastic sprint show which results in two stadium records (Blake: 9.76/100m; Bolt: 19.66/200m). Defying the weather proves harder for Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha of Kenya. He is defeated in the 800m race by surprise winner Mohammed Aman (ETH).

2013: The crowd went wild with excitement during a gripping women’s 5000m race featuring Ethiopia’s and Kenya’s elite of long distance running. Meseret Defar narrowly beat Tirunesh Dibaba after a mesmerising final lap (58.48). Once again, king of sprint and crowd favourite Usain Bolt added athletics glamour, thrill, and fun to the legendary Letzigrund Stadium buzz. He clocked 9.90, winning his race by a smaller margin than usually. The Zurich Trophy – a women’s 4x100m relay race this time – rounded off the evening with a highlight for the Swiss team: They equalized their own national record of 43.21 set at the world championships in Moscow two weeks earlier.

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