Athletics - Kratochvilova: Russians could break 800m record

Jarmila Kratochvilova believes her 29-year-old 800 metres world record may be under threat from Russian athletes at next year's world championships in Moscow.

The Czech runner, now 61, set the fastest time of one minute 53.28 seconds in Munich in July 1983 and it is the longest standing record on the track.

"It's always a small happiness for me when the season ends and the record is still there," Kratochvilova, who also held the record for the 400 metres before it was broken by East German Marita Koch, told a news conference at the IAAF centenary celebrations in Barcelona.

"It will be 30 years next year and I have been thinking about it for 30 years who will break it," she added through an interpreter.

"In 2008 when Pamela Jelimo (of Kenya) was running so well I was thinking she's the closest and she has the biggest potential but it didn't happen.

"Seeing as the world championships are in Russia next year I think the Russian 800 metres runners will be very fast and maybe one of them will come close to the record.

"But I will be very happy to still have the record in July next year to celebrate the 30 years."

Russia's Mariya Savinova, who has a personal best of 1.55.87, won gold in the event at this year's London Olympics, with South African Caster Semenya taking the silver and Ekaterina Poistogova, another Russian, bronze.

World champion Savinova's winning time of 1.56.19 is well outside the world record and Svetlana Masterkova, who won gold for Russia in both the 800 and 1,500 metres at the Atlanta Olympics, was sceptical about her compatriots' chances of challenging Kratochvilova's mark.

"It's very fast, it's impossible for women to run so fast. It will last for 100 years," she told Reuters.

"The world championships is a very special competition and it's more important to have gold (than set a world record)," added the 44-year-old.

Kratochvilova, who works as an athletics coach, said that as well as Savinova and Poistogova, Semenya had a chance of challenging the record.

Semenya's victory at the world championships in Berlin in 2009 raised questions about her gender and she was subject to a verification process that kept her off the track for almost a year before the IAAF cleared her to run again.

Kratochvilova's muscular appearance also led to questions being asked about her gender she said she sympathised with Semenya.

"I have seen all her races, I saw her win in Berlin in 2009," the Czech said.

"What happened to her it would have been difficult for anyone in that situation.

"I supported her and I am glad she came back competing at a high level.

"I think that when she will run in the finals next year at the world championships my record will be shaken."