In a career plagued with injuries, Ellen Van Langen was indeed fortunate
that her one good year, 1992, was a year in which an Olympic Games was
held. Van Langen had been a soccer player until 1986, but had then
embarked on an athletics career specialising in the 800m. She steadily
improved and in 1990 came 4th in the European Championships at Split.
The following year, during which she was troubled by an Achilles tendon
injury, she was eliminated in the heats of the Tokyo World
Championships. However, she returned from injury with a remarkable year
in 1992, winning 10 of her 11 races over 800m. Leading up to the
Olympics Games in Barcelona, she had recorded the fastest time of the
season prior to the Games, beating Tokyo gold medallist Liliya
Nurutdinova at Hengelo on 28 June in 1min 56.66sec.
She also recorded
another fast time of 1min 56.92sec at Hechtel just two weeks before the
Olympics. There was a strong field assembled at Barcelona on 3 August,
including the first four placegetters from Tokyo: Nurutdinova, Ana
Quirot (Cuba), Ella Kovacs (Romania) and Maria Mutola (Mozambique).
Nurutdinova led the field through the first lap in a very fast time of
55.73sec, with Van Langen only in 6th position. Van Langen was still
well out of medal contention as they entered the straight, but she then
started a drive for the tape, passing every one of the first four from
Tokyo, and winning in a season's best time of 1min 55.54sec (see photo above)
from Nurutdinova and Quirot.
Injuries cost her most of the 1993
season, and also prevented her from competing at the 1994 European
Championships. In 1995 she finished 6th in the World Championships at
Gothenburg**, but further injuries in 1996 prevented her from defending
her Olympic title. (Ron Casey)
1995 1:58.86 Göteborg 11 AUG **
1994 1:59.89 London 15 JUL
1993 1:59.23 Bruxelles 03 SEP
1992 1:55.54 Barcelona 03 AUG (personal best)
1991 2:02.02 Tokyo 24 AUG