From Mike Rowbottom at the Grosvenor House Apartments in Park Lane in London

Svetlana Masterkova1_April_27April 29 - Svetlana Masterkova, who won the Olympic 800 and 1500 metres double for Russia at the 1996 Games, eight years before her British rival Kelly Holmes managed the same feat at the Athens Games, does not believe any female runner is likely to emulate the achievement for many years.

And she revealed for the first time that she had not wanted to do the longer distance in Atlanta after winning her 800 metres gold (pictured second image down), but had been told she had to carry on by her coach.

"I think history will have to have some rest," she told insidethegames.

"I don't think the 800-1500 double will happen again for some time in the women's events.

"In order to do the double you have to be specially talented – you have to be able to sprint, and you have to be very powerful.

"After I had won the 800 metres in Atlanta I said to my coach, Svetlana Styrkina, that I didn't want to run the 1500 metres.

Svetlana Masterkova_April_29
"She told me that my having a place in the 1500 metres meant that a runner back home did not have it.

"She said to me: 'You can't refuse now.'

"And so I ran.

"I was so confident in myself I didn't count how long to run.

"I never counted the laps in the 1500 metres.

Svetlana Masterkova_800_win_1996_Olympics_April_27
"I just waited for the sound of the bell.

"It is amazing – I have never said this before.

"But it is the truth."

To read From Russia with love: five outstanding Soviet Olympians relive their mostly glory days in London click here.

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