Chris O’Hare cannot recall the 1500m showdown between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett at the Moscow Olympics. In fact, he has no memory of the great British middle distance era of the 1980s. He was born in 1990.
In the Luzhniki Stadium tomorrow afternoon the 22-year-old Scot follows in the hallowed footsteps of Coe and Ovett when he lines up in the World Championship 1500m final – in the same arena where Coe beat Ovett in that Olympic metric mile final a third of a century ago, thus avenging his defeat in the 800m final. “It’s fantastic to be in the final here,” O’Hare said. “This is a stadium steeped in British middle distance history. It’s an honour to be part of that.”
O’Hare, a student of exercise science at the University of Tulsa, is the first Briton to make a World Championship men’s 1500m final in six years, since Andy Baddeley finished ninth in Osaka. No-one is expecting him to finish on the podium but the Borderer could well achieve one of the highest placings by a Brit since Steve Cram won the inaugural title in Helsinki in 1983.
Since then, only one Briton has finished higher than eighth: Matthew Yates, who was sixth in Stuttgart in 1993. O’Hare has defied the odds to get this far having lined up ninth fastest in his heat and eleventh quickest in his semi-final. There is a touch of the Ovett about him, with his natural racer’s brain and his ability to handle himself in the rough and tumble of the 1500m. He has the attitude to match, too.
“I’ll think about what I can realistically do in the final and then shoot for a bit higher than that,” O’Hare said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re ranked on paper. People don’t run around with their PB on their chest. It’s how you run on the day.”