Steve Scott has quietly gone on getting stronger and stronger these past three years, until now it seems there is not a miler besides Sebastian Coe or Steve Ovett who can get near him.
"Things with me are pretty bland," he said last week. "Bland but consistent." A quiet autumn of cross-country running, weight work, no travel "and no honeymoon like last year" has left the 24-year-old Scott superbly fit and confident.
Ray Flynn of Ireland, who had raced Scott almost even in a 3:54.5 mile in Johnson City, Tenn. three weeks before, expected Scott to go after Eamonn Coghlan's indoor world record of 3:52.6. "I wanted Scott to have to take the brunt of the hard work, so I could wait just behind until the last lap," said Flynn. But when rabbit Brian Theriot only did 1:57.4 for the half, Scott held back.
"If it had been 1:55, I might have gone after it," he said, "but I decided then just to try to win." That left Flynn in the lead when the rabbit died, wondering why Scott didn't pass, and Flynn ran the third quarter in 61.1, further wrecking the chance of a record.
With 400 yards to go, Scott took the lead and pulled away. For a time it appeared Coghlan had a shot at him, but he and Flynn collided on the last turn and Scott was never challenged, winning in 3:53.7, the fourth-fastest indoor time ever. Coghlan hit 3:54.3, nearly five seconds faster than he'd run in Johnson City, and Flynn got a personal best of 3:54.4.
"My third win in a row," said Scott, seeming not at all tired. "That's as many wins as I've ever had in a whole indoor season."
It was noticed that although Scott always appears calm before races, his fingernails were well chewed.
"That's the part that makes it exciting," he said. "It would be dull if I weren't nervous, wondering whether I'll be able to dig deep enough in the last quarter. I don't think I had that killer instinct a couple of years ago."
"You want to be a killer?" he was asked.
"Well, uh...on the track, yes." He smiled at his own niceness. "I'm trying not to be bland—I had a hemorrhoid last week, is that spicy enough?—but I guess I'm not really in this to be a millionaire, and I don't really care if I'm the best-known person in the world or the least-known. My objective is to do my best in the sport and for the sport. And I guess if I do that and lose, I'll still know I gave it all I had. And that's sensible, right? And bland."