Nevertheless, Moorcroft's record run in Oslo was not only the most significant performance by a track athlete in 1982 (and arguably the greatest feat by anyone in a non-team sport last year), but it was also the most popular. Moorcroft had paid his dues, and in the paying had come to seem representative of common mortals, meaning all those less divinely gifted than Coe or Rono or Steve Ovett.
Despite his 3:49.34 mile in Oslo 11 days before the 5,000, despite winning (in 7:32.79, only .69 off Rono's record) a hard-fought 3,000 in London from almost every good middle-distance man going, Moorcroft returned to vulnerability later in the season by doing too much, contracting an eye infection and being outkicked in the European Championships 5,000 by Wessinghage, the man who had so reverently watched his record run.
"David is kind of delicate," said a British writer before the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia in October, where Moorcroft captained the English men's team. "He doesn't travel well." Yet Moorcroft won the Commonwealth 5,000 easily in 13:33.00.
"Another chapter in the up-and-down world of my 5,000 running," he said with a big grin after the race. "But it meant a lot personally to come back after the disappointment of the Europeans."
After an Australian holiday with his wife, Linda, and infant son, Paul, Moorcroft returned in November to Coventry, where he was born and where he administers the Coventry and Warwickshire Awards trust, which provides sporting opportunities for inner-city youth.
Its main office, reached through a sky blue door (indeed, the sign over the door reads ENTERPRISE SKY BLUE, one of the youth programs funded by the trust), is beneath the stands of the Coventry City Football Club. To gain a view of the club's emerald pitch, one must venture through the dim concrete men's room. The trust's office walls are soft fiberboard, to which are tacked class schedules, posters, maps, ribbons, bills, messages, photos, award certificates, postcards, pennants, telegrams, clippings, tickets and blueprints. A kayak lies among the desks.
"The blueprints are for our great project," says Moorcroft. "Converting an old warehouse into a sports center. There are no adequate indoor field-event training facilities in England. We're on tenterhooks just now, waiting to hear from the English Sports Council on a $500,000 grant request."
Meanwhile, as many as nine employees must work out of this small office. They coach talented underprivileged kids, supervise canoeing and climbing expeditions after the fashion of Outward Bound and train unemployed teen-agers for jobs in sport and recreation.
Coventry, 90 miles northwest of London, is Great Britain's Detroit. A number of companies once manufactured cars here. Only Jaguar is still operating.
"Once it was a boomtown, paved with gold," Moorcroft says. "There never used to be any question of unemployment. But Japanese cars have taken the market. Last year seven out of 10 school-leavers didn't get full-time employment."