The men’s 1500 metres can surely be thought of as one of the top events at any Olympics Games. Throughout the ages, there have been many worthy champions at the event and for a long time it involved British interest. In 1900 Charles Bennett was the first British man on the podium and it must be noted that the great Sir Roger Bannister was in the stadium, the man who broke the elusive four minute mile and Sebastian Coe who won 1980 and 1984 were in attendance in the stadium as this high profile event took place.
Sadly there would be no British repeat of Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Jerry Cornes or Peter Elliott in the final during 2012 but the field was certainly one of the most interesting in years. With three runners representing Kenya in the final, all eyes would have been on them and certainly on defending champion Asbel Kiprop who was cheated out of a gold initially four years ago and the Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi who was sensationally dropped from the 800 metres the day before via a doctor’s note.
The race itself will be remembered for the unbelievable three minutes 34.08 seconds as the Algerian seemed to take control of the pack and yet with no obvious game plan in mind. For British fans there will always be the fantastic duels between working class hero Steve Ovett and the man who would go on to win the title twice, those finals always seemed to have so much riding on them, tactics played their part to the end and made for a fascinating spectacle. This year’s Olympic final seemed stilted, pedestrian like and questions will surely be asked by trainers of the athletes taking part on how they allowed Makhloufi to take such control.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment on the night was the sight of the previous Olympic Games struggling all the way through the race. So much so that by the end of the last lap, he was four seconds down on the man in front and he finished an astonishing nine and half seconds behind the eventual winner.
For Makhloufi, who ran a final lap in a bewildering 52.76 seconds, it got his country off the mark where the medal table was concerned and gave the young Algerian the chance to become a national sporting icon.
Ian D. Hall
Image: The Guardian