Athletics: Ceplak sets sights on 1500m record

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The Independent Online

Having successfully completed one quantum leap with the golden 800m run that took her past Steffi Graf and into the world record books at the European indoor championships in Vienna last Sunday, Jolanda Ceplak will be attempting to take another at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Slovenian athlete has a best 1500m time of 4min 13.19sec. In the Norwich Union International meeting she aims to run quicker than 4min 00.27sec, Doina Melinte's world indoor record time.

It will be a feat even more staggering than her high speed Viennese whirl if Ceplak manages to achieve it. She started the indoor season as an also-ran on the international 800m scene – a semi-finalist at the world championships in Edmonton last summer – with a best time for the distance on the boards of 1min 59.00sec. In the epic 800m final last Sunday she beat Graf, the Austrian favourite, in a stunning 1:55.82, breaking Christine Wachtel's 14-year-old world indoor record by 0.58sec.

In the aftermath, she talked of testing herself at 1500m at some point this year before moving up in distance in the summer of 2003 with the intention of attacking the outdoor world record, the 3:50.46 set by Qu Yunxia of China in 1993.

It came as some surprise, then, when it was announced yesterday that Ceplak would be making an attempt on the indoor record the Romanian Melinte set at East Rutherford in the United States 12 years ago – even though the Slovenian's form at the longer distance is limited to an outdoor personal best of 4:13.19, set in Yokohama last September, and a best time indoors of 4:21.66.

The meeting is a five-sided international match involving Great Britain, Sweden, Russia, Germany and an All Stars team but Ceplak's rivals have acceded to her request for a guest pace-maker to be added to the field. "With Jolanda in exceptional form, and after seeking the agreement of her opponents, we have decided to give her every chance to break the record," said Ian Stewart, the meeting director.

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