Amel Tuka lines up for the 800m at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)
Amel Tuka lines up for the 800m at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Bosnia-Herzegovina Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • DATE OF BIRTH 9 JAN 1991

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 23 August 2015

Amel TUKA, Bosnia and Herzegovina (800m)

Born: 9 January 1991, Zenica 

Lives: Verona 

1.87m / 77kg

Coach: Gianni Ghidini

Amel Tuka did not dream of a career in international athletics as he grew up in Zenica in the heartland of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 

“I was not so much interested in athletics at school, more in football. But at the age of 17 I was told to run a 400m as part of my school physical education lessons.” He says.

“I just ran in normal training shoes and a T-shirt, no spikes or specialist clothing, I think I had been playing basketball a short while before, and I ran 50 seconds."

“My teacher was amazed and said I had some talent as a runner, so I started training a little more seriously for athletics on exactly 1 January 2009, just a few days before my 18th birthday.”

He can still clock a respectable single lap and his personal best is 47.19 from 2013 – still a national record. OK

But, after a summer of training with the local club Atletski Klub Zenica, he switched his attentions to two laps. The next year, he was representing his home nation on the international stage over 800m. In the European Team Championships third league in Marsa in Malta, he won in 1:51.43.

He returned to the same competition one year later in Reykjavik in Iceland, but had lost his 800m place to Dusan Babic. He finished 8th in the 400m in 49.91, but helped the 4x400m team to third place.

In 2012, he made his first appearance at a major championships, representing his country at the European Championships in Helsinki, Finland. OK

He began by finishing third in his heat in the 800m in a personal best of 1:48.31 to earn his place as an automatic qualifier in the semi-finals. But he placed last in his semi final in 1:51.14 in what was a harsh lesson for the developing athlete.

His major breakthrough came the following year at the European Under-23 Championships in Tampere, Finland. He won his first international medal, taking bronze in the 800m in a new national record of 1:46.29.


More significantly, he caught the eye of famed Italian coach Gianni Ghidini, who guided Kenyan Wilfred Bungei to the 2008 Olympic 800m title and Italy’s Andrea Benvenuti to 1994 European gold. Soon afterwards, he moved from his homeland to train in Verona under Ghidini’s guidance.

In 2014, he made a significant improvement, reaching his first senior final at a major championship. After progressing through the heats and semi finals, he lined up in the 800m final at the European Championships in Zurich, Switzerland.

Again, he produced a national record run, clocking 1:46.12, but it was only good enough for sixth. Both athlete and coach felt there was more to come. In 2015, he has made his presence felt on the global stage with some brilliant fast times.

His year began with a rather modest outing at the European Indoor Championships in Prague, Czech Republic where he was eliminated in the heats in 1:49.92.


But the focus was always on the outdoors. For the first time ever, he added weights training to his regime and the work began to pay off. He slashed his personal best to 1:44.19 by winning in Ljubljana, Slovenia – also an Olympic Games qualifying standard. He followed this up with another national record breaking run, winning in Madrid in 1:43.84.


The results earned his first invitation to the top table of international athlete and he lined up for his first appearance in the IAAF Diamond League in Monaco in July.

He produced an incredible performance, defeating a stellar field including World champion Mohammed Aman and Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos to win in 1:42.51. It was also the fourth fastest time by a European ever and put him 11th on the all-time list for 800m.


Afterwards a shocked Tuka said: “My goal for this season was 1:45! I felt very good, (I) said to myself let’s try in last 100m but was not thinking I could win the race. And best in the world this year? Oh, I need to calm down, go back to Italy for some hard training before Beijing."

He has quickly established himself as a national hero in his native Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country – which gained independence in 1992 – has yet to win a medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships.    

Personal Bests 

400m  47.19 NR (2013)

800m 1:42.51 NR (2015)

Yearly Progression 

400m 2009: 50.30; 2010: 48.82; 2011: 48.58; 2012: 47.52 NR; 2013: 47.19 NR; 2014: 47.50 NR;

800m 2009: 1:53.85; 2010: 1:51.04; 2011: 1:51.09; 2012: 1:48.31; 2013: 1:46.29 NR; 2014: 1:46.12 NR; 2015: 1:42.51 NR

Career Highlights 

2010 1st European Team Championships 3rd League (Marsta) 1:51.43
2011 9th European Team Championships 3rd League (Reykjavik)   49.91
2012 8th SF European Championships (Helsinki) 1:51.14
2013 3rd European Team Championships 2nd League (Banska Bystrica) 47.73
2013 1st European Team Championships 2nd League (Banska Bystrica) 1:51.11
2013 3rd European U23 Championships (Tampere) 1:46.29
2014 1st European Team Championships 3rd League (Tbilisi) 1:49.81
2014 6th European Championships (Zürich) 1:46.12
2015

4th

European Indoor Championships (Prague) 1:49.92

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
400 Metres 47.52 Zenica 05 MAY 2012
800 Metres 1:42.51 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 17 JUL 2015
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
800 Metres 1:48.86 Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 21 FEB 2015
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
400 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2012 47.52 Zenica 05 MAY
800 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2015 1:42.51 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 17 JUL
2014 1:46.12 Zürich (Letzigrund) 15 AUG
2013 1:46.29 Tampere 12 JUL
2012 1:48.31 Helsinki 27 JUN
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
800 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2015 1:48.86 Istanbul (Ataköy Arena) 21 FEB
Honours - 800 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
15th IAAF World Championships 3 1:46.30 Beijing (National Stadium) 25 AUG 2015

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 23 August 2015

Amel TUKA, Bosnia and Herzegovina (800m)

Born: 9 January 1991, Zenica 

Lives: Verona 

1.87m / 77kg

Coach: Gianni Ghidini

Amel Tuka did not dream of a career in international athletics as he grew up in Zenica in the heartland of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 

“I was not so much interested in athletics at school, more in football. But at the age of 17 I was told to run a 400m as part of my school physical education lessons.” He says.

“I just ran in normal training shoes and a T-shirt, no spikes or specialist clothing, I think I had been playing basketball a short while before, and I ran 50 seconds."

“My teacher was amazed and said I had some talent as a runner, so I started training a little more seriously for athletics on exactly 1 January 2009, just a few days before my 18th birthday.”

He can still clock a respectable single lap and his personal best is 47.19 from 2013 – still a national record. OK

But, after a summer of training with the local club Atletski Klub Zenica, he switched his attentions to two laps. The next year, he was representing his home nation on the international stage over 800m. In the European Team Championships third league in Marsa in Malta, he won in 1:51.43.

He returned to the same competition one year later in Reykjavik in Iceland, but had lost his 800m place to Dusan Babic. He finished 8th in the 400m in 49.91, but helped the 4x400m team to third place.

In 2012, he made his first appearance at a major championships, representing his country at the European Championships in Helsinki, Finland. OK

He began by finishing third in his heat in the 800m in a personal best of 1:48.31 to earn his place as an automatic qualifier in the semi-finals. But he placed last in his semi final in 1:51.14 in what was a harsh lesson for the developing athlete.

His major breakthrough came the following year at the European Under-23 Championships in Tampere, Finland. He won his first international medal, taking bronze in the 800m in a new national record of 1:46.29.


More significantly, he caught the eye of famed Italian coach Gianni Ghidini, who guided Kenyan Wilfred Bungei to the 2008 Olympic 800m title and Italy’s Andrea Benvenuti to 1994 European gold. Soon afterwards, he moved from his homeland to train in Verona under Ghidini’s guidance.

In 2014, he made a significant improvement, reaching his first senior final at a major championship. After progressing through the heats and semi finals, he lined up in the 800m final at the European Championships in Zurich, Switzerland.

Again, he produced a national record run, clocking 1:46.12, but it was only good enough for sixth. Both athlete and coach felt there was more to come. In 2015, he has made his presence felt on the global stage with some brilliant fast times.

His year began with a rather modest outing at the European Indoor Championships in Prague, Czech Republic where he was eliminated in the heats in 1:49.92.


But the focus was always on the outdoors. For the first time ever, he added weights training to his regime and the work began to pay off. He slashed his personal best to 1:44.19 by winning in Ljubljana, Slovenia – also an Olympic Games qualifying standard. He followed this up with another national record breaking run, winning in Madrid in 1:43.84.


The results earned his first invitation to the top table of international athlete and he lined up for his first appearance in the IAAF Diamond League in Monaco in July.

He produced an incredible performance, defeating a stellar field including World champion Mohammed Aman and Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos to win in 1:42.51. It was also the fourth fastest time by a European ever and put him 11th on the all-time list for 800m.


Afterwards a shocked Tuka said: “My goal for this season was 1:45! I felt very good, (I) said to myself let’s try in last 100m but was not thinking I could win the race. And best in the world this year? Oh, I need to calm down, go back to Italy for some hard training before Beijing."

He has quickly established himself as a national hero in his native Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country – which gained independence in 1992 – has yet to win a medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships.    

Personal Bests 

400m  47.19 NR (2013)

800m 1:42.51 NR (2015)

Yearly Progression 

400m 2009: 50.30; 2010: 48.82; 2011: 48.58; 2012: 47.52 NR; 2013: 47.19 NR; 2014: 47.50 NR;

800m 2009: 1:53.85; 2010: 1:51.04; 2011: 1:51.09; 2012: 1:48.31; 2013: 1:46.29 NR; 2014: 1:46.12 NR; 2015: 1:42.51 NR

Career Highlights 

2010 1st European Team Championships 3rd League (Marsta) 1:51.43
2011 9th European Team Championships 3rd League (Reykjavik)   49.91
2012 8th SF European Championships (Helsinki) 1:51.14
2013 3rd European Team Championships 2nd League (Banska Bystrica) 47.73
2013 1st European Team Championships 2nd League (Banska Bystrica) 1:51.11
2013 3rd European U23 Championships (Tampere) 1:46.29
2014 1st European Team Championships 3rd League (Tbilisi) 1:49.81
2014 6th European Championships (Zürich) 1:46.12
2015

4th

European Indoor Championships (Prague) 1:49.92