But here came Steve Scott of the U.S., not at his best, determined to make it a race over the whole distance. He led at 800 in 1:56.81. This suddenly was a very special Olympic 1,500. "In the past, people have been all too happy to lie down and let the kickers win," said Cram.
No more. Spain's Jos� Abascal steamed to the front. Sebastian Coe of Britain, the defending champion, always held second. "It was the race I love to run," he said. "Plenty of pace, and stay at the front."
Cram moved with 250 meters to go, trying to gain the lead before the turn. The instant Cram came even with his shorter teammate, Coe exploded. He led through the curve and then kicked again in the stretch, showing, really for the first time after two years of illness, his beautifully sustained speed. He won by seven yards in an Olympic record 3:32.53, becoming the first man ever to win two Olympic 1,500s.
Coe's fierce expression of satisfaction, directed at a raucous group of Chelsea soccer fans, was misread by some observers as an angry gesture aimed at members of the British press.
Later, he put it in perspective. "This time last year, I'd been out of the hospital [with glandular fever] for four days," Coe said. "I didn't run from July to Christmas. It was really a question of returning to full health before I could even think about running."
Coe might have been speaking to Decker and Budd. There will be other races, other seasons. And other chances to run with plenty of pace and stay near the front.