It was as long ago as 1979 that Christina Boxer achieved a Roger Bannister of a feat for British women's middle distance running, breaking through the two minute barrier for 800 metres. She was 22 years old at the time.
Last night the Commonwealth 1500m champion of 1982 could sit back and savour the spectacle of three Britons ducking under two minutes in the same race for the first time in track history. That one of them happened to be the Bournemouth schoolgirl who she coaches made the occasion all the more satisfying.
Charlotte Moore is only 17. In September she enters her A-level year at Bournemouth School for Girls. In the space of 1min 59.86sec in the City of Manchester Stadium last night, she finished sixth in the Commonwealth Games final and passed a premature entrance exam into the ranks of world class half-milers.
To grasp the significance of Moore's performance, accomplished with a run of maturity way beyond her tender years, the fact ought to be highlighted that Steve Cram also made the English Commonwealth Games team at the age of 17 and, as a teenage middle distance prodigy, failed to reach the 1500m final in Edmonton in 1978.
In advising her charge to bypass the world junior championships in Jamaica last week, to concentrate fully on the Commonwealth Games instead, the shrewd Boxer cited the fruits Cram bore from his Edmonton experience in later years. Even Boxer, though, could never have expected the rich pickings her young protege snatched on the spot in Manchester.
Moore broke the British junior record with a time of 2:00.95 in her semi-final on Sunday night and has now, with Boxer's astute guidance, improved by a staggering six seconds this summer. Her personal best at the start of the season stood at 2:05.68.
"I can't believe I've knocked that much off," Moore reflected. "I wasn't going for a time in any of the races here. I just came for the experience and that experience has been amazing. It's something I can take away and build on for the future."
The future is looking distinctly bright not just for Moore but also for British women's middle distance running. Behind Maria Mutola, who triumphed in a new Games record, 1:57.35, Susan Scott took fourth place in 1:59.30, breaking Rosemary Stirling's 30-year-old Scottish record, and Jo Fenn finished seventh in 1:59.86 a personal record for the woman who makes records of a different sort as a singer-songwriter.
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