Coe: Rudisha's run was greater than Bolt's
Kenyan's 800m gold in record time is hailed as 'most extraordinary piece of running ever'
Saturday 11 August 2012
It was the 41st world record of the London Games, the first on the track in the Olympic Stadium, but for Seb Coe it was simply a performance as good as he has ever seen. David Rudisha's astonishing run in the 800m on Thursday night, coming just minutes before Usain Bolt completed his historic double-double, is Coe's unmatched moment of these Games.
Coe is one of only four men to have held the 800m record since 1976 and the manner in which Rudisha, who grew up idolising the Briton, lowered it again on the biggest stage of all left him deeply impressed.
"Bolt was good, Rudisha was magnificent," said Coe, himself a double Olympic gold medallist. "That is quite a big call but it was the most extraordinary piece of running I have probably ever seen.
"He had the balls to go in there and think 'I am so much better than anyone else that I could [run a world record]'. In Olympic finals you are not supposed to gamble with the till, but he did. It comes from consummate physical and mental confidence. If you look at the field, that is arguably the greatest 800m ever run. It was the performance of the Games, not just of track and field, but of the Games."
The Kenyan held the previous mark of 1min 41.01 sec, set in August 2010 in Rieti in Italy. He lowered it on Monday night to 1min 40.90sec with such a commanding run that Andrew Osagie finished last in a time that made him the fourth fastest Briton ever behind Coe, Steve Cram and Peter Elliott.
"If you said to Andrew Osagie 18 months ago you will get to an Olympic final and you are going to run 1min 43sec he would have taken that," said Coe, who was in the stadium, watching alongside Frank Lampard (Chelsea are Coe's other sporting passion). "Whether he would have thought he was going to finish last is another thing.
"The last person that I saw grip a middle-distance event in an Olympic Games was Herb Elliott back in 1960. This was even tougher. I have known David a long time and I have seen two of his world records and he is a lovely guy. He is incredibly nice, incredibly modest and just the real deal. He's the greatest 800m runner of all time.
"Profile doesn't bother him. I have known him for three years and we talked at length three years ago about how he would break the world record. He is just entirely foc used on running. We have the Muhammad Ali of track and field in Usain, but we have to make sure the other sterling talents in track and field are recognised."
Coe added: "I'd love to see Africa host the Olympic Games – it is the continent that has been the story of track and field for the last 20 years."
As for his best British moment of the Games, Coe, chairman of Locog, the London organising committee, steered away from his greatest love, athletics. "There has been so much to choose from," he said. "I loved Kath Grainger winning. That was possibly the most wanted win in any sport given that she'd had three silvers. I think Chris Hoy is just a legend. That last race was just extraordinary, the mental strength of that guy is just unreal."
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