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Seb Coe excited about IAAF role

seb coe - iaaf

Today is my ( Seb Coe ) first day of office as President of the IAAF. I am very excited and proud to have been given an opportunity to lead our great sport into the new era that lies ahead. I am looking forward to working closely with my colleagues on the IAAF Council, who yesterday accepted my recommendation to appoint Sergey Bubka as our Senior Vice President. [Read more…]

The Art of 800m Running

The 800m has moved into the realms of the long sprint. Today’s 800m athlete will need to be a 45/46 second 400m athlete, who needs to feel comfortable going through the 1st 400m of the 2 lap race close to 50 seconds. The event requires both endurance and tactical ‘know how’, which in itself produces great excitement for athlete and spectator..

A brief history

The 800m has come about due to the English mile. It is believed the 800m was born in England during the 14th century. At the first professional competitions, races were contested over 880 yards or half a mile (804.67m). In 1876, Walter Slade improved what can be regarded as the first world record at the distance by three times, slashing it to 1’58’’1/5. The first, acknowledged, master of the discipline was the American Melvin Sheppard, a double Olympic champion in 1908 at London over 800 and 1500m. From Tom Hampson, as regular as a metronome, to John Woodruff and his formidable stride (he measured 1.90 m), the 800m provided some titanic tussles. In 1962, Peter Snell made his mark on the distance when he shattered the world record with 1’44’’3 on the grass at Christchurch. Others who enjoyed spells of dominance include Fiasconaro, Wohlhuter and Juantorena… before the reign of a certain Sebastian Coe.

The basic principles

The 800m is basically all about suffering, but this is less intense than at 400m. For while on a single lap of the track, the athlete goes all out without holding anything back, the 800-metre runner has to be able to concentrate his efforts at the right moment.

A combination of ingenuity, anticipation and positional sense, the 800m demands true tactical intelligence in order not to remain trapped in the pack. It is no surprise that the discipline is open to a wide range of profiles, consisting of athletes moving up from the 400m, formidable for their burst of speed towards the end of a tactical race, or those moving down from longer distances, adept at pacing themselves. However, the one characteristic a future record holder must display is raw speed.

The major figures

Over the years, there have been a number of greats who have made their mark on the distance .

Sebastian Coe (GBR): Was an athlete who displayed considerable Seb Coe - 1:41.71 ability over 1500m, as well. And is the last truly great Champion to double up successfully. This British 1500m specialist was twice Olympic champion at that distance as well as improving the World Record for 800m on two occasions. The first, on the 5 July 1979 in Oslo, he bettered Juantorena’s world record to 1’42’’33, an improvement by over a second from 1:43.44. In the process demonstrating the virtue of a tactical race. 800m Silver medallist at the 1980 Moscow Games, he delivered a masterclass one year later at Florence, completing the two laps of the track in 1’41’’73. In two years under Coe’s impetus, the 800m made a staggering progression. His world record would remain intact for an incredible 16 years, until in August 1997, Wilson Kipketer outstripped it at Zurich in 1’41’’24.

Maria Mutola (MOZ): The talismanic figure of the 800m, she has Maria Mutola dominated the discipline almost unchallenged for the past decade, and in 2000 at Sydney, the Mozambican received the recognition she deserved when she was crowned Olympic champion. 10 years on from her first title triumph in Stuttgart, the twice world champion has her eyes on a treble at Paris Saint-Denis 2003, although her rivals, the Austrian Stephanie Graf and Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia look determined to deny Mutola that prestige.

With more input at a later stage

The Future

Yuriy Borzakovskiy (RUS): Yuriy  BorzakovskiyBorzakovskiy is undoutedly the most naturally talented athlete to line-up for the 800m distance in the last couple of years. With a PB of 1.42.47 set in 2001, he seems to have it all. In 2002, he took a year off 800m running to concentrate on his 400m speed and this year he has returned a different athlete. Renowned for his kick, and the lack of commitment to go with the early pace, 2003 has seen him return with a new determined attitude. 2003 has seen him run 1:43.93, as well as defeat all the main protagonists in the 800m.

Jolanda Ceplak (SLO): This flowing blond haired athlete from Slovenia, Jolanda Ceplak seems set to dominate the 800m distance with a zest and desire to attack the World Record like no athlete before her. And with the strong competition from Austria’s Stephanie Graf promised for the future, a sub 1:54 clocking may certainly be on the cards.

Edit: Unfortunately, Stephanie Graf has retired in 2004

More input shall be provided to this subject in the future – this section is due for updates