For most of the World Championships’ quarter century run, the “metric mile” (1500 meters) has seen some truly elite “super” milers rule.
The first edition in 1983 was won by Steve Cram (GBR) over an all star field that included Steve Scott (USA), Said Aouita (MOR), and Steve Ovett (GBR) – almost as a prelude to his WR in ‘85.
1991 saw Noureddine Morceli (ALG) win as a preface to his own WR in ‘92, before going on to win again in ‘95 – as well as set another WR in ‘95. In ‘97 the mantle was passed to Hicham El Guerrouj (MOR) who repeated in ‘99, ‘01, and ‘03 – and set the still standing WR in ‘98 while running 13 of the top 20 times all time along the way!
Since then we’ve seen a revolving door in the event with Rashid Ramzi (BRN), Bernard Lagat (USA), and Yusuf Kamel (BRN) all taking the title. Kamel was not a major factor last year, and is even less so so far in 2011. So it’s a pretty solid bet that Daegu will once again see another “miler” take the victory stand this year.
Have we seen the last of the dominant miler? I realize that the WR in both 1500/mile are WAY out there, so I’m not necessarily saying that someone should rise up and start rewriting the all time lists. It has been a while, however, since we’ve seen that miler that dominates the competition. A Ryun, Coe, Morceli, El G, that is able to just win win win – and of course doing it in fast times.
Given today’s group of milers, fast times means something under 3:31 – and someone able to go 3:29/3:30 at will would clean up on the Circuit and at Majors. When you look at the list of the top 10 over 1500 meters in the last couple of seasons the potential seems to be there:
- 3:29.27 - Silas Kiplagat - KEN
- 3:29.47 - Augustine Choge - KEN
- 3:29.53 - Amine Laalou - MAR
- 3:30.20 - Haron Keitany - KEN
- 3:30.90 - Andrew Wheating - USA
- 3:30.96 - Mehdi Baala - FRA
- 3:31.06 - Ryan Gregson - AUS
- 3:31.20 - Asbel Kiprop - KEN
- 3:31.21 - Antar Zerguelaine - ALG
- 3:31.47 – Abdalaati Iguider – MAR
The issue has been that those have been mostly one off races with much slower back up performances – the exceptions being Choge (3:30.88), Keitany (3:30.90), and Kiplagat (3:30.61) who all have significant backup performances. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with the potential for a great miler to come forth. Believe it or not, Kiplagat, Choge and Laalou are all faster than Sebastian Coe’s best of 3:29.77! Keitany better than Ovett’s 3:30.77 – with Wheating and Baala close. What made Coe and Ovett great was their competitive nature and the ability to compete close to their best on demand.
That is what we are lacking now. The gutsy, go to the well, kind of milers that we saw in Ryun, Coe, Ovett, Cram, Aouita, Komen, Morceli and El G. Perhaps we will get a start to a new legacy in Daegu. After all, Worlds seemed to be a good stepping stone for Cram, Morceli and El G. And I’m betting that one of the men listed above wins gold in Korea. I’ll tell you which one when we’re a bit closer to the opening of the meet.