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Ken Washington of the United States carried the pace through 800 meters in 1:54.78. Elliott moved smoothly past and ran alone to his 3:34.21, nipping more than a second from the standard established by Ireland's Marcus O'Sullivan last year. The mark isn't quite the equivalent of Eamonn Coghlan's sterling indoor mile record of 3:49.78, but tightly banked indoor tracks are not where the long-striding Elliott figures to do the most damage.
Elliott's mother brings out a photograph album and says, "You've always been quiet about your wins."
"I'm very modest," Elliott says immodestly, and laughs.
"I'm a bit sentimental about it all," says Sylvia, turning to pictures of the street party Rawmarsh threw for her son upon his return from the Commonwealth Games. They show Peter's unaffected pleasure at being swarmed by adoring children. "On the day I got back," he says, "old ladies at the bus stop clapped me as I ran by. That's what it's all about."
His father has fallen into a digestive doze before the gas fire. Suddenly he awakens, saying, "I used to take him to the school fields. He'd run. I'll never forget. A kid, one of what I'll call the wasters, asked me, 'What's he achievin', going round the fields?' "
The Rotherham complex where Elliott worked covers 1,200 acres and produces more than one million tons of steel a year. Wearing a hard hat not long before he would leave his job, Elliott walked a visitor along the journey of the molten metal, which is melted in huge electric are furnaces and then transferred to casters, where it hardens into long, graycrusted blocks with angry red cores. These "blooms" roil the air about them with their heat. They are slammed through gnashing rollers, which squeeze and lengthen the writhing steel into billets. "My father worked here at the end, on the finishing banks," says Elliott.
The mill's carpentry shop is a sanctuary from the sound and the heat. You think you have come into a fragrant, well-equipped high school wood shop. Elliott worked full-time here until he left for the '87 World Championships. "The British team went a week early to Rome that year," he says, "which allowed me to sleep that whole week, and so I got the silver medal in the 800. When I got home, the company offered me 12 months off with pay to train for the Olympics."
Elliott's response was instructive: He declined. "It wasn't fair to my mates in the mill," he says. "How could I have faced them if I didn't win?"
So this compromise was struck: He worked four hours a day, five days a week, for a wage of $7 an hour (£4 sterling). This arrangement lasted until the start of the current summer season, when he left his job to train full-time. But Elliott, who still frequents the Rawmarsh Working Men's Club, remains a blue-collar bloke at heart. "Working at the mill was more of a hobby than a job," he says. "I enjoyed the guys, I got a wage, it kept my feet on the ground and gave me something worthwhile to do apart from running."
During the Commonwealth Games, Elliott stayed with friends Andy and Kay Grey instead of in the athletes' village. To keep to his routine, he built them a fence. "They already had the posts," he says. "It was relaxing. I also fixed the dry rot on the corner of their house."