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"This is the way the final should have been in Helsinki," said Walker, who had run his last 800 there in 1:50.6, but was only ninth in 3:44.24. In Berlin, the 31-year-old Walker broke 3:50 for the fourth time in his career with 3:49.73. Wessinghage did it for the first time, scraping under with 3:49.98, a German national record.
"We should have made a pact, a Helsinki accord," said Scott to Walker. By that he meant a pact to share the pace, to make it hard all the way, instead of the last 600. "That was your best chance...and it would have saved me."
Now they must prowl the tracks of Europe in hope of snagging another shot at Cram. This they mean to do. Walker's sheaf of plane tickets is as thick as a James Clavell novel. And he has another reason for all those races. The Berlin mile was his 85th under four minutes, more than anyone else had done.
"I want to do 100," he said. "I could have been a lot closer by now if I hadn't gotten sick last summer and run seven miles over four."
Walker's quest calls to mind that of Edwin Moses, who won his 82nd straight 400-meter hurdle race in Berlin, in 48.48. That tied the alltime record for such streaks, held by Harrison Dillard in the high and low hurdles; Dillard did that between July 1947 and June 1948.
"Glad to get that one out of the way," said Moses, who is married to a Berliner, the former Myrella Bordt, whom he coaxed from a successful career in costume and set design. It was here in the Olympic Stadium six years ago that he last lost, to West Germany's Harald Schmid. Since then Moses had run near-world-record times of 47.17 and 47.27 in Berlin, his own way of making amends.
Tyke Peacock seemed a variation on that theme. He had been second in the World Championship high jump, though both he and winner Gennadi Avdeyenko of the Soviet Union cleared 2.32 meters (7'7¼,"). The difference was that Avdeyenko made it on his first try, while Peacock took three. "But I wasn't upset to get second," he said in Berlin. "The thing that left me hungry was that I'd just tied the American record [set by Dwight Stones in 1976 and tied by Del Davis last year]. I wanted to break it."
Only Peacock and Switzerland's Roland Dalhauser were left jumping at 2.33 (7'7¾"). Both missed twice. Then Dalhauser failed a third time and was out. "All right now, come on," U.S. Coach Russ Rogers called to Peacock, who is also a basketball player. "Dunk the ball, now. Dunk the ball."
Peacock went through his mesmerizing prejump routine, in which he squats, facing away from the bar for its calming effect, then turns, rises and performs a funny little massage on the insides of his knees and on his sternum. After long moments standing and contemplating the bar—with surprise, with resentment—he rocked back, walked four steps, began to run, curled, jumped and cleared—by an inch.
"Knew I could. Knew I could," shouted Peacock, who was hugged by most of the jumpers and half the U.S. contingent. His tries at 7'8" were not heartbreakingly close, but that glorious one at 7'7¾" would have done it. Every year he gets better. "And there's another year to go," he said, with the ring of an Olympian promise.