Cornelia Bürki

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Cornelia Bürki (born October 3, 1953) is a South African-born retired long-distance runner who represented Switzerland in three consecutive Olympic Games,[1] starting in 1980, with her best result being fifth in the 1984 3000 metres final. She is a 47-time Swiss national outdoor champion, which includes a fifteen-year undefeated streak in cross country and fifteen consecutive titles over 1500 metres, from 1975 to 1989.[2] She was voted the Swiss Sports Personality of the Year in 1978.[3] That year she finished fifth at the 1978 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. She was fourth in the 1500m and 3000m finals at the 1987 World Championships

Athletic career[edit]

Born in Humansdorp, South Africa, Burki moved to Switzerland in 1973. At her Olympic debut in the 1980 Summer Olympics, she finished seventh in her semi-final over 1500 metres. That year she also won the women's 7 km race at the inaugural Greifenseelauf. She ran at the 1983 World Championships in Athletics, finishing tenth and eleventh in the 1500 m and 3000 metres, respectively. She was fifth in the women's 3000 m at the 1984 Summer Olympics and also took fifth in the long race at the 1985 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. She was selected to represent Switzerland at the 1986 European Athletics Championships, and finished seventh in the 3000 m final. That season she was ranked third over 1500 m in the IAAF Grand Prix Final.[4]

She was seventh in the long race at the 1987 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and just missed out on a global medal on the track later that year, taking fourth place in the 1500 and 3000 meters  m at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics. She managed in the 1500 meters to break the 4 minutes barrier. After bad luck with a severe upper leg injury, she still managed to qualify for her final Olympics in 1988 in Seoul, where she competed in both the 1500 m and 3000 m races. She was eliminated in the preliminary rounds in the former event, but went on to finish in eleventh in the 3000 m final.[5] She was also the national flag-bearer for Switzerland at the event. Bürki's career was marked by injuries and close defeats. At a World Championships event in Rome she missed medaling in the 3000 meters by just 1/100 second. At the cross Swiss country championships in 1988 she slipped and pulled the Sartorius muscle so badly that she was unable to train for weeks. She still managed to qualify for the Olympics in Seoul, although the injury caused problems for the next two years, until she officially retired from running.

Personal life[edit]

Cornelia is married to Beat[6] and has got 2 daughters Sorita and Esther. Since 1981, she has been the primary care-giver of her daughter Esther, who was in a coma for six months after a car accident and is permanently wheelchair-bound. She is Grandmother of Maurice Jay and Jayden Connor Rickenbach. Cornelia is the co-owner of a bed and breakfast in Port Elizabeth, South Africa was coaching Sabine Fischer (9th at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games) for many years. She was also coaching middle distance runners Hugo Santacruz, Swiss Champion 800m and Mario Bächtiger, Swiss Champion 1500m in her hometown Rapperswil.[7]

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing   Switzerland
1976 European Indoor Championships Munich, Germany 6th 1500 m 4:22.00
1977 European Indoor Championships San Sebastián, Spain 4th 1500 m 4:16.8
World Cross Country Championships Dusseldorf, Germany 10th 5.1 km 18:02
1978 World Cross Country Championships Glasgow, United Kingdom 5th 4.7 km 17:13
European Championships Prague, Czechoslovakia 8th 1500 m 4:04.4
6th 3000 m 8:46.1
1980 Olympic Games Moscow, Soviet Union 13th (h) 1500 m 4:05.5
1981 World Cross Country Championships Madrid, Spain 19th 4.4 km 14:50
1982 European Championships Athens, GHrece 11th 3000 m 8:55.67
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Switzerland 10th 1500 m 4:11.61
11th 3000 m 8:53.85
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 5th 3000 m 8:45.20
1985 World Cross Country Championships Lisbon, Portugal 5th 4.99 km 15:38
1986 World Cross Country Championships Neuchâtel, Switzerland 14th 4.65 km 15:32
European Championships Stuttgart, Germany 8th 1500 m 4:05.31
7th 3000 m 8:44.44
1987 World Cross Country Championships Warsaw, Poland 7th 5.05 km 17:08
World Championships Rome, Italy 4th 1500 m 3:59.90
4th 3000 m 8:40.31
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 20th (h) 1500 m 4:10.89
11th 3000 m 8:48.32
(h) Indicates overall position in qualifying heats


  1. ^ Bale, John (2004). Running cultures : racing in time and space. London: Routledge. p. 187. ISBN 9780714684246. OCLC 252936700. 
  2. ^ Swiss Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2010-09-22.
  3. ^ Credit Suisse Sports Awards - Athlete Profile - Cornelia Bürki. Sportswoman of the Year 1978 - Athletics. Retrieved on 2017-02-18.
  4. ^ IAAF Grand Prix Final. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2010-09-22.
  5. ^ Cornelia Bürki. Sports-reference. Retrieved on 2010-09-22.
  6. ^ "Swiss athletes in PE to prepare for upcoming championships - HeraldLIVE". HeraldLIVE. 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2017-11-22. 
  7. ^ At Sta Plus Bed and Breakfast

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by
Christine Stückelberger
Flagbearer for   Switzerland
Seoul 1988
Succeeded by
Daniel Giubellini
Preceded by
Switzerland Lise-Marie Morerod
Swiss Sportswoman of the Year
Succeeded by
Switzerland Denise Biellmann