In his 800
record, Coe ran his first 200 in 24.6, his last in 27, slowly dying. In last
year's European championship 800, he burned the first 400 in 49.3, losing in
the end to East Germany's Olaf Beyer and Ovett. "Of course it was
extravagant," said his smiling father, who long has valued courage over
labeled me a front-runner, which is incorrect if they mean I feel I must always
be in the lead," said Seb Coe. "I've always worked through even splits,
or tried to, but as they've been ambitious, I've been up front, necessarily, to
run them. It's not that I'm trying to stamp my personal mark on a race. It's
just that I'm trying to spread it evenly."
In that light,
Coe's mile was something of an exception to his usual way of running. His
acknowledged ease over the last lap suggested that, world record or not,
3:48.95 is nowhere near his limit.
memory of the day," Coe said, savoring it, "is of the tremendous
atmosphere among all the milers. Obviously we're each out to ruin everyone else
on the track, but we've been genuine friends throughout." The mood of the
event, he felt, was fierce without being grave. "This is what athletics is
all about—Bislett tonight, not a once-every-four-years thing."
moment," said his father.
there is only one certainty in all this," said Coe, his voice filled with
the echoes of all record breakers, past and future. "Some month, some year,
if I don't try, some other bloke will."