Boit didn't. He walked and gulped air for many minutes. "I cannot believe it," he said when told his time. "You know, I don't think I can run any faster than that." Steve Scott, exhausted after coaching his wife through the delivery of their first child, seven-pound Corey Michael Scott, at 1 a.m. the previous Saturday and then flying from California, still ran 3:53.98. It was good enough to earn him only eighth place.
Coe went to Byers and thanked him for his help, promising to return the favor. Later, Byers would see Peter Coe and apologize for letting the pace drop. "Hey, was the record broken or not?" said Peter. "They're not 10 to the penny, you know."
The younger Coe was drawn away by British television, so Peter sought out Sebastian's mother in the stands where she was composing herself. "I saw a little of it," she said, "through my fingers." This was the third record of her son's that she had witnessed. "I'm worse at it every time."
They walked back to their hotel, where a frantic representative of ABC Sports called their room and tried everything he knew to influence Peter to put the absent runner on the phone. "Look, you've heard of Howard Cosell, haven't you?" the voice on the phone wailed.
"I guess so," said Peter, though he hadn't.
"Well, this is special. This is serious."
"I'm sorry. It's very serious to you, it's your job. But you see, it's all a joke to me," he said, hanging up.
Yet ultimately he did share a serious moment, one in which he acknowledged Sebastian's wish for a better race. "He's sewn up the 800- and 1,000-meter records for years to come. He knows that. What he knows, too, is that he could have blown apart that 1,500 and hung on to make a real reduction of the mile. Ah, you learn something about yourself in this bloody game, don't you? And maybe what we all should learn is you can't always get everything you want."
Perhaps the only man in Europe who would disagree is Skeets Nehemiah.