Sunday, January 9, 2011

1979 Golden Mile

I was 14 years old and a huge track fan. Loved watching Steve Scott run: he ran against all comers, he ducked no one, and always competed with his guts on his sleeve.

Scottie was one of the favorites in this ridiculously fast field that included John Walker ('76 Gold Medalist, the WR holder, and only man under 3:50), Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland and Villanova and a monster last 200m, Thomas Wessinghage the fastest Doctor alive, et al.

The one who stayed home was Steve Ovett, who was in the middle of a multi-year undefeated streak in the 1500. The Brits instead sent youngster Sebastian Coe, an enormous lad at 119 pounds who recently broke the 800m world record.

This race was televised on NBC; I clearly remember watching.

Steve Lacy does the pace work for 2 laps, then drops out. He is timed in 1:54.5, perfect pace. My man Scottie bulls his way forward, running as fast as the future day when he completed an 18-hole round of golf in 29 minutes. I'm on the edge of my seat, urging him faster. He is on pace to hit 1200m in 2:52, even though the skinny kid comes by at the bell.

Huh? Coe is a lot of things: a future member of Parliment, a soon-to-be knighted Lord Coe, but he's no miler.

Someone forgot to tell him.

Around the 7th turn, he's gone. Scottie can't hold on, and the rest of the pack is far back. Coe keeps striding, not an ounce of pain or tightness in his face, and he rips a half second from Walker's world record.

I guess he is a miler after all. Oh yes, he also ended his career as the only 2-time Olympic 1500m Gold Medalist.

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