• singapore athletics
singapore athletics
Pierre Lavanchy
  • March 17th, 2007


This strapping lanky Suisse 400m runner is well known in the European 400m circuit. A top class one lap runner, with a lifetime best of 45.49s, we once again caught up with Pierre Lavanchy to talk of his recent progress since his last interview here.


His preparation for Beijing Olympics 2008, a glimpse of his student athletics life, the Suisse sports association and his future outlook. If there’s one thing we can learn from Pierre, it’s his staunch determination to plan ahead and fully committed to his passion and lifelong goals

Height: 1.85m

Weight: 72kg

Date of Birth: 30/09/1982

Coach: H-R Herren

Personal Best: 45″49 (400m)

Website: http://www.pierrelavanchy.ch

Pierre Lavanchy, one lap wonder

  1. Prior contacting you, you mentioned you’re having exams. Are you still in the “Sciences of Sport and Psychology” course at your University? Or are you doing another course? Which university are you from anyway?

    I’m currently finishing my studies in Sciences of Sport and also in Psychology at the University of Lausanne (the French part of Switzerland). I will then be a teacher, but prior to this I want first to engage 100% in my sport as a professional. First goal is gonna be the Olympics in Beijing, then London in 2012 to end my ‘career’ there. But one thing after another, I’m now getting into some Asian vibes.

  2. You mentioned that you’re a surprised talent when you discovered you’ve the natural ability to run a good 400m. What do you think separates a world class to a mediocre so-so 400m runner. Is it just talent or hard work?

    Let’s say more generally that an athlete (whatever sport he does and whatever his level is) can reach his very top self performance efficiency only with both hard work and his own initial talent. He will need to go as far as possible in every areas of the performance: knowledges, confidence, focusing ability, preservation, planning, mental, physical involvement, and etc. When I see 8 guys in the starting blocks I don’t care “how fast their legs are” but I’m very much interested in “what are they able to with it right now” moment: producing the best performance, at a very precise time, at that point of time. That’s all what competition is all about. It’s then very interesting to analyze how to come about to that 100% effort for each different individual. This is a coaching work, and that too interest me.

  3. Tell us of your first ever 400m run. Was it bad? … And do tell us of your excellent 45.49 seconds 400m run. When was it run and where? Tell us of that race, from the warmup, to the starts, to the end. I’m sure plenty of 400m would like to know what’s in your mind running that excellent sub 46sec 400m race. We hope to see more of that race!

    Oh my first 400m! I was 17, still a high jumper then, I don’t know why I tried 400 that day. I’m the ‘feeling type’ of a guy. So I guess that day I just felt it right, so I ran and was discovered.

    As for my personal best, it was ran during the Swiss Championships in Berne. That was a perfect race for me, I saw it coming for a few days infact. I was feeling so confident of my times and my technique in trainings. I even only managed to sleep just 4 hours that night. I was ready, everything was planned in my head, my moves, my day, my start, the other runners, I was there already. I went through the hours as I imagined from the beginning, very focused. I was completely in control of my whole body.

    I knew I was there, but kept focusing in the present, to do my things. Warm up was like being on an elevator. I was slowly and automatically reaching the top. I could play with my mind and moves. I came in the blocks, very relaxed, I did all my best so far, just had to continue this way. At the gun everything was quiet, no sound around, I just put my body “on” and started running like I had to do.

    I kept very concentrated and patient till the end of the second curve, there I knew I was very fast. I still had so much energy, so there I gave all out: I remember being like in fast car accelerating, you just have the steering in your hand and you drive, with a lot of power under you. My head was 100% on my arms and my legs that’s all I had to care about, keeping the rythm

    Then the chrono said … 45″49 … BOOM:-) This race will be on my website www.pierrelavanchy.ch soon!

  4. The last time we interviewed you in 2005, you were training and planning towards Beijing Olympics 2008. How’s that preparation coming along? Any new running methods you’ve picked up perhaps or you’ve changed your training regime? Are you still with the same coach and training group?

    I have improved my top speed, but more than that I have to be able to have several top races in a row. It includes a lot more volume in trainings, I already improves a lot that way. I had the chance to join a couple of time the group of Leslie Djhone (French top 400m runner) and Marc Raquil (400m World Champ bronze and Euro 400m champion) and their coach François Pépin, I learnt so much there.

  5. I’m sure you’ve traveled to plenty of wonderful and new places to train and race. Which is some of the most memorable places you’ve been to. Do share some funny or interesting anecdotes. We would like to hear your experience.

    I trained in Potchefstroom (South Africa), there it was great, exceptional training conditions. I find so interesting to get to see and meet different cultures through traveling. There are so many to share. What could I say, maybe some typical ones like it’s so funny to think vodka is cheaper there than beer in Sweden, or at the World University Games 2005 in Turkey, I find it cool that they planted the trees and grass from the athletes village at the end of the championship.

  6. You’re considered a student athlete yourself being still in University. How has your school helped you or did they have any part in giving you help or support during your training and goal to become a top 400m runner. Is there perhaps a special student athlete program in your school? If so, how does it works …

    Switzerland in general is very late in joining sport ‘bandwagon’. I always had it done seperately. What helped me going on in both my studies and sport is being completely involved and convinced in it. I knew what I was looking for in both. It’s hard work, a lot of time and some sacrifices to join my running passion but it helps having a balance. Too much sport or too much studies on it’s own merit is not good.

  7. Tell us a little about the Swiss National athletics team. Who are the promising athletes we should look out for? How often do the National team train together or is it a separate training with your own individual coaches.

    We had some world class guys in Triple Jump (Alexander Martinez, IAAF Grand Prix bronze), Marathon (Viktor Roethlin and Christian Belz), Javelin (Stefan Müller, Swiss national record holder 82.07m), and a very interesting 4×100 team. Some newcomers in the sprint should make it one of the top teams to watch out for if they keep on going progressing well. I hope you’ll hear more our 400m runners. But overall the swiss team doesn’t really meet for centralised training often, it is not big enough.

  8. Is your athletics association as helpful as it should be. In Singapore we’re having some problems with the association and athletes, there has been some misunderstanding and ‘politics’ between the two sides. Does your country athletics association and athletes face the same problem?

    There has been a restructuring period some years ago. It’s now solved and I really think the actual solution is good, as the association now helps me well. I advice what you all need is a lot of ‘good’ communication.

  9. Who are your main sponsors. How has these sponsor helped you to train full-time. How do you usually get sponsors, do you approach them or do you find these sponsors yourself?

    My current sponsors are Nike, the world top meeting Athletissima and some swiss local groups. It’s big work approaching them, somebody who is in the business helps me that way.

  10. Let’s say down the road few years from now, you decided to ‘retire’ from Track and Field. Where does your interest lie? Where do you think, you see yourself after quiting running. Ever thought of going into coaching?

    My goal that time will be to find the best new interest for me. I will get involve completely in a job I like and that gives me new challenges. My dream would be to travel a lot, and to establish my base in Australia, I just love this country! Ideally being a coach for Australian athletes.


Thank you Pierre for your participation


Posted by Uncle Sha.
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