Athletics - 800m Preview

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"That was lovely... fancy a Chinese?"

It would seem that the pace of the action around here isn’t quick enough for some people, so in an effort to keep things ticking over, tonight will see a bit of true Ultimate Olympian action – that is to say, some shambolic, poorly thought out, hurriedly executed sport followed by a trip to the pub with Kev from Sobell House.

On the spur of the moment, a gauntlet was thrown down, and tonight Kev and I go head to head over 800 metres at the Iffley Road track, the scene of Sir Roger Bannister’s most celebrated mile. The event was chosen because it’s short enough to not hurt too much (despite a complete lack of training), it’s short enough to not take too long (despite the new licencing laws, the pubs don’t stay open forever you know), and we don’t need any special equipment (like starting blocks).

Probably the most famous 800m race in the Olympics was the final in 1980, when Steve Ovett beat Seb Coe (pictured above pretending to like each other and wearing some particularly fetching gear). Coe had been the favourite to win the 800m and was gutted to only take silver – “There is only one medal that counts. I have to make sure it does not happen again.” – but a few days later, he faced Ovett again in the 1,500m (Ovett’s speciality) and destroyed him.

Tonight, I expect Kev - the Multiple Marathon Man – will be destroying me. I have two goals. The first is, as ever, to run the race in less than double the world record time. The current record is 1:41.11, set by Wilson Kipketer in 1997, so I’ll need to complete two laps of the track in less than 3:22.22. I think that’s possible. The second goal is to avoid getting lapped. I might struggle with that one.