passed some time reading a book on English history. Ishii of Japan took a long
walk among the evergreens, feeling honored. "I knew I wasn't fast enough to
win," he says, "but I was tremendously elated to be given this chance
to see how I measured up to the best men in the world." For Ishii, it was
like being dropped into an Olympic final, and his assessment of his opponents
was fascinating. "I believed Coe would not win because he was specializing
in the 800," he says. "Coghlan is basically a long-distance racer with
great staying power. He is not too strong a sprinter in the homestretch."
Had Ishii asserted this to Walker, Wessinghage, Scott, Lacy, Robson, Moorcroft
or Masback, all of whom had been cut down by Coghlan in the last hundred yards
of races, he would have caused a sensation. In fact, Coghlan's potent kick was
the reason Peter Coe felt the pace would be swift. "Out of a dozen
intelligent men there must be several who don't care to wait around and have
Eamonn outsprint them," he said.
Scott and Lacy
took the rattling wooden tram from the hotel to the city center and walked
again to the Soviet Embassy, where Scott was told his visa still had not come
(Scott would never
make it to Russia. But after the Golden Mile, Masback, staying with an aunt in
Paris, would pay his own insistent visits to the Soviet Embassy there. He
recalls, "Finally on the fourth day the guy said, 'Are you Edwin Moses?' I
said no. 'Do you know Edwin Moses?' I said sure. 'O.K., Were is visa.' "
Masback then placed second in the spartakiade 1,500.)
From the embassy
they went to the SAS offices to have Scott's and Kim Votaw's tickets changed to
go south. "There were long lines," says Scott. "We waited half an
hour, then said screw it and went back to the hotel to have something to
eat." Five hours before race time they looked at the menu and settled for
"They only had
five things in the restaurant," says Masback. "Fish, hamburger, Wiener
schnitzel, fried chicken and spaghetti. And there were some unclear but heated
personal problems among the kitchen staff. Our food was always served by sullen
or tear-streaked waitresses."
Coe had relaxed
for an hour reading Mao's little red book of quotations, which he had brought
from Sheffield. "I found it very funny," he says. "The masses'
inexhaustible lust for socialism." Then he and his father had been taken by
a photographer to pose on the heights of the Holmenkollen ski jump. They
cooperated, climbing hundreds of feet up and down the structure, but felt
slightly used. The photograph of Sebastian now in his album shows him standing
with a pair of skis and a certain wrinkled-nose discontent. The picture of his
father shows ashen terror. "That must have added two seconds to whatever
you'll run," he said as they regained level ground.
At midday they
lunched and laid the race plan. "We had a slight difference of
opinion," Sebastian says. "I thought there might be some stuffing
around." But his father assured him it would be fast all the way, and thus
the best tactic was not to lead but to get a good position and stay close to
the front. "There was no talk of a world record," says Peter. "It
was to be run competitively. The aim was simply to win the race."
concern was for the third lap. "When you figure 57 seconds per quarter is
six seconds slower than my 800-meter pace," he says, "it wasn't going
to feel too hard at first. But those stamina men were going to come on in that
Walker had reached
Oslo only the day before, having been delayed by leaving his passport in
London. He and Williamson had a chat in the hotel lobby. Walker said he was
making no excuses, but his Achilles tendon problems had left him short of
racing fitness. He had a cold and was taking penicillin.
"I didn't feel
he should've been talking to me in such a way," says Williamson. "Who
was I, anyway? He certainly didn't seem the big, confident athlete I