Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races


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Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby no one » Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:59 am

hopefully this isn't old or redundant topic. I know each off these guys has gotten plenty of air time here but I'm not sure in this precise context. (and then again maybe so)

Say Coe, Ovett, and Ryun are all in their physical and mental prime. They run 10 one mile races, all fresh. In each race they've run an honest pace - lets say 2:53 @ 1320. (no slacking-no rabbits). They reach 220 to go, virtually together. How many races out of the 10 does Coe win? Ovett? Ryun?
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Daisy » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:03 am

10:0 Ovett.

Assuming Ovett has not already got that 800m olympic gold medal in the bag :)
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Marlow » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:44 am

If this is the June 1967 Ryun, and he has forewarning of the kinds of paces that Coe/Ovett could sustain (i.e., he's prepared mentally), he wins 4, Ovett wins 3 and Coe wins 3. :D
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby lovetorun » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:29 pm

agreed...and I think Kuha would also.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby kuha » Mon Jul 18, 2011 5:03 pm

lovetorun wrote:agreed...and I think Kuha would also.


:D

Yes, that sounds pretty reasonable to me. Putting Ryun on a tartan track in 1967 with a rational, fast pace--yes, he'd absolutely at least hold his own against those two great runners.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Rog » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:21 am

Ovett, in his prime, even with the other two with 200 to go, would have the edge - his acceleration too sudden and his sprint too sustained and strong. Coe however would win some because his temperament wouldn't allow him to do otherwise. I don't think Ryun would have the mental strength of either of the two British guys, and I think he would tail off.

That said, I live in the British Isles, so there may be an unintentional bias here. Is the original poster American? I'm surprised Pre wasn't inserted somewhere in the above scenario!
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby no one » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:23 am

orig OP is Mericun.

Pre wouldn't fit in any mile 2 mile or 5k 'fantasy' matchup - not by a long shot. Squakee may take umbrage with that - but his international record is too weak. Nationally he dominated.

Personally I am an Ovett fan but Coe and Ryun have to factor in. In '67 Ryun was untested while running great times - all by himself. IMO Ryun could have run much much faster. In '67 his mental readiness ... well, couldn't be evaluated, again IMHO.

Ovett in full stride, or stalking, is beautiful and seemingly effortless - (one man's speed has torn this field asunder)
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Daisy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:33 am

no one wrote:Ovett in full stride, or stalking, is beautiful and seemingly effortless

His racing instinct was acute and this was how he won his fans. Obviously he was also good at the time trials and record attempts but that is not what I remember him for. "Stalking" is a good way to describe him with the expectation of him then exploding to the front.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:22 pm

Say Coe, Ovett, and Ryun are all in their physical and mental prime. They run 10 one mile races, all fresh. In each race they've run an honest pace - lets say 2:53 @ 1320. (no slacking-no rabbits). They reach 220 to go, virtually together. How many races out of the 10 does Coe win? Ovett? Ryun?


Several people have mentioned Ovett's turn of pace with 200m to go. I would add that as impressive as that was, it was usually in slower paced races, where things only heated up over the last lap. When this happened in 77-79, the opposition was comparatively poor, so it looked even more impressive. By 1980, Ovett was running faster, but the opposition had improved. In fact I can't think of any 1500s or Miles at 2:53 pace for 1200m where Ovett obliterated the opposition!

His 1980 Koblenz WR of 3:31.36 is a case in point. The early pace was pretty even; 55.7, 57.4 & 57.7 for Ovett, but when he kicked past Wessinghage with 200 to go, he opened a small gap, which he maintained to the end, winning by less than 2m. His last 200 was 27.0, last 100m 13.3.
I just don't think Ovett was anywhere near as potent with his kick at 2:53 pace, or if someone went "all out" with 400m+ to run.

I can think of 2 races Coe ran in 84 (probably not his best year, but not far off) when he went through 1200m in 2:53. Firstly was the Olympic final, where he ran the last 200m in 25.7 and last 100m in 12.7, pulling a good 7m clear of Cram. That was at the end of 7 races in 9 days, so I would imagine those closing splits would have been faster if it were a 1 off race and he was "fresh".
The other was about 10 days later in Zurich, when off very erratic pacing (55.0, 60.9, 57.4 for Coe), he went through 1200m in 2:53.4 and covered the last lap in 53.0, last 300m in 39.0, last 200m in 25.6, last 100m in 12.5. He won over a rejuvinated Scott by about 10m.

The only race of Ryun's where I can think he ran anywhere near 2:53, was his 1500 WR in 67, when he went through 1200m in 2:54.0 and ran the last 300m in 39.1. There was no time given for the last 200m, but his last 100m was 13.5.

Another comparison can be made between Coe & Ovett's Mile WRs in 1981. In Ovett's 3:48.40, his last 400m was 56.6 (56.9 440yds) and he slowed quite considerably in the last 100m ~ 14.4
In Coe's run, where the first 3 laps were more erratic in pace, he covered the last 400m in 55.1, and his fastest 100m was the last one, at 13.1.
Having said this, clearly Ovett did not like to run from the front, and Coe had some opposition with 200 to go in the shape of Boit, 10m back. But not only is 1.3secs a big gap for the last 100m, it also shows (as do the other races mentioned above) that Coe must have had unused energy at the end of his races if his last 100m was always his fastest 100m split of the race.

I don't think the same person would win every time out of the 3, if they were to run 10 times. If it were just the 3 of them following 1 rabbit to 1200m in 2:53, then I think Coe would win the most. His turn of speed matched Ovett's, his speed endurance (as shown by his 1000m WR) matched Ryun's and his basic leg speed (45.5 relay split) was better than either of the other 2.

If it was part of a field of 8 or 9 runners, then tactics would come into play more, and that would possibly be in Ovett's favour, as the best tactician of the 3.

And if each of the 10 races were run at a different pace, then I think it would result in different winners. The slower, the better for Ovett. I think if it went off very fast, then that would favour Coe and wouldn't help Ryun, who ran most of his best races when the pace started off slow to steady, preferring to launch his long drive over the last lap. He didn't, as far as I can remember (please correct me if wrong), run any 1500s or miles when the opening lap went 55 or 56. So a fast start would put him psychologically into an area he had never experienced before. Both Coe and Ovett have run fast times of sub 55 sec first laps: - Ovett ~54.4 in his 3:30.77; Coe ~52.4 in his 3:31.95 & 54.0 in his 3:29.77. And Coe of the 3 was the only one who knew what sub 3:30 felt like.

Based on the OP's "original criteria", and the evidence outlined above, as opposed to "favourites" or a hunch as to what they could, would or might have achieved, I'd go for Coe - 6, Ryun and Ovett - 2 each.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Daisy » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:52 pm

Great job dean!
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:20 pm

Cheers Daisy!
Just my opinion, mind.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby lovetorun » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:22 pm

Yes, nicely thought out analysis!
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Marlow » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:27 pm

Jeez, I hate it when people ruin perfectly good fantasy speculation with FACTS!! :twisted:
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby tandfman » Tue Jul 19, 2011 5:50 pm

Well, yes. But let's not forget that it's still speculation. Also, let's not forget that after the first race or two, one or more of these three bright guys might have adjusted their tactics, or perhaps even their training, to reflect what they had learned from the experience.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Marlow » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:02 pm

tandfman wrote:Well, yes. But let's not forget that it's still speculation. Also, let's not forget that after the first race or two, one or more of these three bright guys might have adjusted their tactics, or perhaps even their training, to reflect what they had learned from the experience.

Which is why Ryun STILL wins more than the others. :D He had the most to learn (Coe and Ovett having had each other) and had the freak body to withstand the punishment it would take to train hard enough to beat those guys.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby gh » Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:18 pm

if it's indeed even with half-lap to go my money is on Ovett nearly every time, with Ryun 2nd, Coe 3rd. Ovett had a gear-shift that was stunning.

But I would posit that (the imaginary) Ryun would never be even at that point; he already would have run away.

great thread!
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby catson52 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:26 am

What data do we have re Ryun's last 200-300 m in a really fast race, say 2:55 or faster with a lap to go in the mile? What was the timing in the 1965 race with Snell? As I recall the pace for his best races (timewise and tactics) in 1966-1967 were all with relatively slow early paces, i.e. 66 and 67 mile WRs, 67 1500m WR, races against Tummler and Keino in Europe in 1967. The only race that comes to mind with a fast early pace (the Mexico City final) saw Ryun hampered by altitude, and somewhat poor preparation after health problems earlier in the year.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby bambam » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:53 am

gh wrote:if it's indeed even with half-lap to go my money is on Ovett nearly every time, with Ryun 2nd, Coe 3rd. Ovett had a gear-shift that was stunning.

But I would posit that (the imaginary) Ryun would never be even at that point; he already would have run away.

great thread!
?

This is a great thread. But would it ever be even with 200 to go? As GH said, Ryun would have run away by then, at his best, and Coe would know what strategy he would need and likely started something at about 600 out, using his long sustained strength to break down the other 2. So hopefully at 1300, he would be leading and need to hold on. I have no idea who would win but this is fun conjecture.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:18 pm

gh wrote: -
if it's indeed even with half-lap to go my money is on Ovett nearly every time, with Ryun 2nd, Coe 3rd. Ovett had a gear-shift that was stunning.

But I would posit that (the imaginary) Ryun would never be even at that point; he already would have run away.


Well Ovett's gear shift wasn't good enough to beat Coe in Moscow 1500, where Coe had a third gear change!
Fastest last 100m in any 1500m Championship final ~ Coe, 12.1 Moscow 1980
Fastest last 100m in any international 800m _ Coe, 11.3 Helsinki (European Cup semi) 1981

Coe would match Ovett when he makes his move with 200 to go and then get past him in the straight. If the pace was 2:53 or faster at 1200m, and Ryun was behind, he wouldn't get past either of them.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:21 pm

This is a great thread. But would it ever be even with 200 to go? As GH said, Ryun would have run away by then, at his best, and Coe would know what strategy he would need and likely started something at about 600 out, using his long sustained strength to break down the other 2. So hopefully at 1300, he would be leading and need to hold on. I have no idea who would win but this is fun conjecture.


I don't think Coe would be worried about either of their kicks and would not need to hit the front with 600m to go. I think it more likely that Ryun would need to push to the front at the bell, which would neutralise Ovett's 200m kick.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby basslop » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:27 am

As many hypothetical cases it's hard to say.

OVETT:
- It's been said here that Ovett having his breakthrough slightly before the mass of top performance runners in the early eighties may have made him more look superior than he actually was.
- The 1500m race in Moscow 1980. The man who sort of "destroyed" this race for Ovett was Jürgen Straub. To me that was THE race in Strub's career doing tactically correct by going hard with 600m to go. That was enough to destroy Ovett's 200/300 kick, and it made Straub beat one of the two favourites.
- A saw an interview with Steve Cram where he told about his thoughts before the WC in 1983. He wasn't that afraid of Steve Ovett because: "He was so predictable, he always kicked with 200-300m to go."
- I think though that his injuries (1982) and heath problems (LA 84) led to that he was not able to perform at his best in the last part of his career. :(

RYUN:
I'm too young to have seen him live (TV or on site), except his fall in München 1972. Seeing him on Yuotube though has made me really understand what an amazing runner he actually was. :shock:

COE:
- Well I'm biased. I saw all his three world records in Oslo in 1979 and 1980.
- His strength; well not the one that kicked first with 200-400 to go, but he mostly had the extra gear at the home strait. :!:

I go for Coe in the majority of the 10 races. 8-)
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby John G » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:27 am

To this day, I'm totally partisan in favour of Ovett. We never saw the best of him. He went on a bender after the Moscow 800 and was neither fit nor motivated enough to win it. Mo lens was at the end of a long season and he just did enough to win. He didn't train properly for the 81 season and was never the same after the 82 injury. I think his greatest race was the 3:32 WR equalling run in Oslo before the OG. A WR never looked easier and he could have gone much much faster.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:04 am

To this day, I'm totally partisan in favour of Ovett. We never saw the best of him. He went on a bender after the Moscow 800 and was neither fit nor motivated enough to win it. Mo lens was at the end of a long season and he just did enough to win. He didn't train properly for the 81 season and was never the same after the 82 injury. I think his greatest race was the 3:32 WR equalling run in Oslo before the OG. A WR never looked easier and he could have gone much much faster.


I agree, he could have gone faster, but so could Coe.
To say Ovett wasn't fit for the 1500m final in Moscow is ludicrous. He was in the best shape of his life. IF he did go on a "bender" then more fool him. If he'd run a sub 12.0 secs last 100m in ANY other race in his entire career, then I might be willing to even consider he could have won the Moscow 1500. As far as I'm aware, and I have most of his races on dvd, he never did. He ran 12.7 for the last 100, just as he did in the 800 final. So, wasn't he fit or motivated for that one either?

And to say he didn't train properly for the 81 season is also no excuse. I've read his autobiography and seem to remember he called his 81 season his best!

I admire Ovett greatly, and I don't think we did see the best of him, but I think it's rather rich to dismiss his losses by saying he wasn't fit or didn't try, when the factual evidence would suggest otherwise.

Btw, I've recently downloaded almost all Ovett's 3:30.77 WR on Youtube. Only the first 300m is missing and the rest is good quality.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby John G » Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:18 pm

deanouk wrote:
To this day, I'm totally partisan in favour of Ovett. We never saw the best of him. He went on a bender after the Moscow 800 and was neither fit nor motivated enough to win it. Mo lens was at the end of a long season and he just did enough to win. He didn't train properly for the 81 season and was never the same after the 82 injury. I think his greatest race was the 3:32 WR equalling run in Oslo before the OG. A WR never looked easier and he could have gone much much faster.


I agree, he could have gone faster, but so could Coe.
To say Ovett wasn't fit for the 1500m final in Moscow is ludicrous. He was in the best shape of his life. IF he did go on a "bender" then more fool him. If he'd run a sub 12.0 secs last 100m in ANY other race in his entire career, then I might be willing to even consider he could have won the Moscow 1500. As far as I'm aware, and I have most of his races on dvd, he never did. He ran 12.7 for the last 100, just as he did in the 800 final. So, wasn't he fit or motivated for that one either?

And to say he didn't train properly for the 81 season is also no excuse. I've read his autobiography and seem to remember he called his 81 season his best!

I admire Ovett greatly, and I don't think we did see the best of him, but I think it's rather rich to dismiss his losses by saying he wasn't fit or didn't try, when the factual evidence would suggest otherwise.

Btw, I've recently downloaded almost all Ovett's 3:30.77 WR on Youtube. Only the first 300m is missing and the rest is good quality.

What do you mean 'if' he went on a bender? This is well documented in Butcher's book and marknhj was there and has given a very detailed account. :) And you think the belief that he wasn't mentally or physically right for the final is ludicrous? So a major drinking session wouldn't have had an impact?? He overheated badly after the semi and clearly wasn't right. Is it really so implausible that an athlete (particularly one like Ovett, whom Mel Watman described as the ultimate fun runner) found it hard to raise himself after a gold medal to do it again with the same level of intensity? More experience observers than you have for years said that had the 15 come first, Ovett would have won.
I mentioned the fact he didn't train as hard as previously before the 81 to back up my belief that we never saw the best of him. That's not an 'excuse', just a statement of fact.
Where do I suggest that he didn't 'try'?
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Deerfoot » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:43 pm

This is the kind of mental exercise I love, but it can never be answered conclusively. Even the apparent objectivity of numbers can't tell us for certain what would happen if these three lined up against each other in their primes. In the specific situation cited, I believe Ryun would struggle. It seems to me that (like Cram) he would be best served against these two by a long drive from 300y or more out. Ovett perhaps had the best acceleration from 200m out, and I think he would gap the other two. However, Coe had more sheer speed than Ovett and might peg him back. I would give Coe and Ovett either 4 each or 5-3 in Coe's favour. In these particular race conditions I would give Ryun only 2.
To forestall Deano's probable criticism, I know Coe had sinilar acceleration to Ovett. However, it seems to me that he tended to leave his finishing kick later than Ovett, often till the last 100. I think Ovett would go first and would open a gap. Who would win would depend on whether Ovett could hold on or Coe would run him down.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:14 pm

What do you mean 'if' he went on a bender? This is well documented in Butcher's book and marknhj was there and has given a very detailed account. And you think the belief that he wasn't mentally or physically right for the final is ludicrous? So a major drinking session wouldn't have had an impact?? He overheated badly after the semi and clearly wasn't right. Is it really so implausible that an athlete (particularly one like Ovett, whom Mel Watman described as the ultimate fun runner) found it hard to raise himself after a gold medal to do it again with the same level of intensity? More experience observers than you have for years said that had the 15 come first, Ovett would have won.
I mentioned the fact he didn't train as hard as previously before the 81 to back up my belief that we never saw the best of him. That's not an 'excuse', just a statement of fact.
Where do I suggest that he didn't 'try'?


From what I remember of watching various documentaries and reading his autobiography, Ovett got drunk the night of winning the 800. He woke up with a hangover and then had 3 clear days before running the first heat of the 15. That's not quite my definition of a "bender", which usually implies several days of non stop drinking. He was superb in both the heat and semi of the 15, and there was no sign of not being fit or of suffering from the heat. It was hot and humid in Moscow but everyone had the same conditions. Just because "more experienced" observers (by which you mean close colleagues and fans of Ovett) have said he'd have won the 15 if it came first, doesn't make it true, and has nothing to do with what actually happened in the 15. It's completely hypothetical to say had the 15 come first,..... I could say if Coe had gone to the Olympics in 76 he wouldn't have froze and lost the 800 first in Moscow. But that wasn't the case.

As for 1981, according to Ovett himself, it was "the best of years". He wrote in his autobiography, "Olympic gold medals, world records and European titles have their own special place in a career, but if medals were struck for a string of performances then I think that my best hope would have been for the racing I did in 1981. To me it was the most rewarding year.......I knew I was as physically fit as I had ever been and, without the mental stress of living at home,..."
He goes on to say (P.113) "The race in Milan (1981) showed again how many uncovered mysteries to racing there are still. I was probably as fit physically as I had been the year before in Moscow but, without the pressure that Olympic competition brings and all the other personal worries ....I was, without realizing it, in much better psychological shape."

No mention of not training as hard as far as I can see.

So excuse me for not being an experienced observer and taking yours and their facts into consideration when assessing Ovett's preparation for the 1981 season. I stupidly thought that taking the actual words of Steve Ovett, stating he was in the best shape of his life, would be more reliable than yours. Seems that I was wrong!
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby John G » Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:46 pm

deanouk wrote:
What do you mean 'if' he went on a bender? This is well documented in Butcher's book and marknhj was there and has given a very detailed account. And you think the belief that he wasn't mentally or physically right for the final is ludicrous? So a major drinking session wouldn't have had an impact?? He overheated badly after the semi and clearly wasn't right. Is it really so implausible that an athlete (particularly one like Ovett, whom Mel Watman described as the ultimate fun runner) found it hard to raise himself after a gold medal to do it again with the same level of intensity? More experience observers than you have for years said that had the 15 come first, Ovett would have won.
I mentioned the fact he didn't train as hard as previously before the 81 to back up my belief that we never saw the best of him. That's not an 'excuse', just a statement of fact.
Where do I suggest that he didn't 'try'?


From what I remember of watching various documentaries and reading his autobiography, Ovett got drunk the night of winning the 800. He woke up with a hangover and then had 3 clear days before running the first heat of the 15. That's not quite my definition of a "bender", which usually implies several days of non stop drinking. He was superb in both the heat and semi of the 15, and there was no sign of not being fit or of suffering from the heat. It was hot and humid in Moscow but everyone had the same conditions. Just because "more experienced" observers (by which you mean close colleagues and fans of Ovett) have said he'd have won the 15 if it came first, doesn't make it true, and has nothing to do with what actually happened in the 15. It's completely hypothetical to say had the 15 come first,..... I could say if Coe had gone to the Olympics in 76 he wouldn't have froze and lost the 800 first in Moscow. But that wasn't the case.

As for 1981, according to Ovett himself, it was "the best of years". He wrote in his autobiography, "Olympic gold medals, world records and European titles have their own special place in a career, but if medals were struck for a string of performances then I think that my best hope would have been for the racing I did in 1981. To me it was the most rewarding year.......I knew I was as physically fit as I had ever been and, without the mental stress of living at home,..."
He goes on to say (P.113) "The race in Milan (1981) showed again how many uncovered mysteries to racing there are still. I was probably as fit physically as I had been the year before in Moscow but, without the pressure that Olympic competition brings and all the other personal worries ....I was, without realizing it, in much better psychological shape."

No mention of not training as hard as far as I can see.

So excuse me for not being an experienced observer and taking yours and their facts into consideration when assessing Ovett's preparation for the 1981 season. I stupidly thought that taking the actual words of Steve Ovett, stating he was in the best shape of his life, would be more reliable than yours. Seems that I was wrong!


Re. His problems after the 800 - read pages 92 and 93 of his autobiography.
Re. his training for the 1981 season, read pages 190 to 192 of Harry Wilson's book. This confirms that he didn't start training til nearly Xmas.
re. The sarcasm in your last para - let's take it outside and settle this like a couple of French 1500 runners. :)
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re. His problems after the 800 - read pages 92 and 93 of his autobiography.
Re. his training for the 1981 season, read pages 190 to 192 of Harry Wilson's book. This confirms that he didn't start training til nearly Xmas.
re. The sarcasm in your last para - let's take it outside and settle this like a couple of French 1500 runners.


Yes I have "Running Dialogue" and the comments of Wilson are there, although they seem to be at odds with what Ovett said in his biography about the 81 season. I'm sure Wilson would have been somewhat biased about Ovett. It could be that he didn't start serious training until Xmas, and I doubt he didn't do any running in the Autumn. But if Wilson said that, then he knows better than us. Having said that, it doesn't then mean that Ovett underperformed because of it.

I'd forgotten the bit about Ovett hyper ventilating in Moscow, though I disagree that anything looked wrong after the semi, in which he was in complete control and looked effortless.
The whole thing about his heat in 3:36.8 being too fast and having a possible affect on the final is a nonsense. He ran 3:43 in the semi, while Coe had 3:40 and 3:39. The average of both athlete's races was the same. They'd both have gone into the final having experienced the same level of effort. The level in LA was far greater over the 2 events.

I also disagree entirely with any of the above preventing Ovett from winning the 1500. The way the race played out with Straub, I honestly don't think anyone would have beaten Coe that day.
I completely understand that Ovett wouldn't have been as motivated as for the first event, and that may have cost him the silver (although in my eyes Straub's performance was questionable, in the same way Ovett should have been the double European Champion at 8 & 15 in 78). I can also see reason in the argument, that had the 1500 come first Ovett would probably have won, for the fact that I think Coe was somewhat in awe of Ovett and psychologically not as strong, but not because Ovett was necessarily a better 1500m runner.

As I've said several times before, Ovett was never as good when the pace really stepped up from 400m + from the finish (e.g the Mile in 83 against Cram).

In the Moscow 800m Ovett's last 100 was 12.7, Coe's slightly faster at 12.6. In the 1500 final Ovett ran the last 800m, 400m and 100m faster than he had done in his World Cup 77 & European Champs win in 78. He ran the last 100m in 12.7, the same as he had done for the 800m. Coe ran it in 12.1. Ovett was almost level with Coe with 100m to go. To have beaten Coe that day he'd have had to run below 12.0 secs. No one in history has ever run that in the last 100m of a championship event! Do you really believe that had Ovett not got drunk 6 nights earlier and hadn't over heated after the 800 final, he would have done just that?

Coe's last 800m, 400m, 300m, 200m and 100m were all faster than Ovett's corresponding splits in either his World Cup or European Champs win, with the exception of the last 300m (38.6) which was the same as Ovett's Prague split. So, in the Moscow 1500, Ovett was in unchartered territory. Without all the "problems" cited perhaps Ovett beats Straub and is closer to Coe. But I don't think he'd have beaten him. That is my opinion based on the stats of the races.

I could say that Coe would have won the 800 easily had he not got nervous and ran such a bad tactical race, which is pretty much what you've said in reverse about Ovett. But that would be disrespectful to Ovett's amazing performance and better tactical brain in the 800m. Now, had Coe got his act together and won the 800m, then I think it's more likely Ovett would have won the 1500, as it was "his event" and he'd have been more focussed than Coe to come back a winner.

At the end of the day there are numerous permutations of how the races could have been won if that had happened or that hadn't. We should just be grateful they both come back with a gold medal, albeit in the wrong event. As much as I'm a Coe fan, it would have been unjust for Ovett not to have been an Olympic champion. He was just too good.

As for the offer to "take me outside", I can only say that yes, I was being sarcastic, due to the feeling that you patronised me and basically dismissed me as not being an experienced observer of their races. I can assure you I watched them at the time, albeit I was quite young, and am an avid reader of books, magazines and articles on both athletes.

So I apologise for the sarcasm, and I'm not one for holding grudges unless your name is Ventolin. We'll just have to agree to disagree on the Moscow 1500. I'm not for changing my beliefs and I'm sure you are the same. If it's any consolation, I've been sticking up for Ovett's athletic ability on Lets Run quite a lot lately.

Anyway, hope we can have amicable differences of opinion on here in the future.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Deerfoot » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:32 pm

How's about if we insert Peter Snell and Said Aouita into the race scenario? What happens then?
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby catson52 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:53 am

If Snell and Aouita, why not Elliott? Snell's best miles seem to have been achieved with relatively slow pacing through three laps. This refers to his Wanganui run and his runs in USA. His 3:54.1, run with a relatively fast early pace, showed how much it could take out of a strong/fit runner, even one who ran decent marathons. I believe his Wanganui run was his best one, and could easily have been about 2 s faster. As it was, it was a PR by about 6 seconds.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby lonewolf » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:19 am

Ok, thats six. We need two more to fill 8 lanes before we run this hypothetical race.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Deerfoot » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:27 pm

I picked Snell and Aouita because I thought they would have the best chance in this particular type of race. They were sprint finishers, whereas Elliott preferred a long drawn out run from the penultimate lap. Great as he was, I struggle to see him beating any of the others mentioned if they're even with 220 to go. El Guerrouj the same. Maybe Ngeny or Lagat would be decent contenders in this situation?
Anyway, does anyone have any views on this?
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:36 pm

My overall opinion of the most frequent result wouldn't change, but with 6 or more in the race, it's going to be more difficult to call, as it's practically impossible for them all to be in a line with 200m to go. I think Aouita had great closing speed (a "reported" 46.9 400m speed), and would obviously be dangerous in a 2:53 pace at 1200m. Snell might be dangerous at a pace about 4 secs slower, but I don't think he'd be a factor at 2:53 pace.
I think Coe, Ovett and Ryun would have the beating of them more often, given the original scenario.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Gebrucilassie » Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:33 pm

deanouk wrote:
Say Coe, Ovett, and Ryun are all in their physical and mental prime. They run 10 one mile races, all fresh. In each race they've run an honest pace - lets say 2:53 @ 1320. (no slacking-no rabbits). They reach 220 to go, virtually together. How many races out of the 10 does Coe win? Ovett? Ryun?


Several people have mentioned Ovett's turn of pace with 200m to go. I would add that as impressive as that was, it was usually in slower paced races, where things only heated up over the last lap. When this happened in 77-79, the opposition was comparatively poor, so it looked even more impressive. By 1980, Ovett was running faster, but the opposition had improved. In fact I can't think of any 1500s or Miles at 2:53 pace for 1200m where Ovett obliterated the opposition!

His 1980 Koblenz WR of 3:31.36 is a case in point. The early pace was pretty even; 55.7, 57.4 & 57.7 for Ovett, but when he kicked past Wessinghage with 200 to go, he opened a small gap, which he maintained to the end, winning by less than 2m. His last 200 was 27.0, last 100m 13.3.
I just don't think Ovett was anywhere near as potent with his kick at 2:53 pace, or if someone went "all out" with 400m+ to run.

I can think of 2 races Coe ran in 84 (probably not his best year, but not far off) when he went through 1200m in 2:53. Firstly was the Olympic final, where he ran the last 200m in 25.7 and last 100m in 12.7, pulling a good 7m clear of Cram. That was at the end of 7 races in 9 days, so I would imagine those closing splits would have been faster if it were a 1 off race and he was "fresh".
The other was about 10 days later in Zurich, when off very erratic pacing (55.0, 60.9, 57.4 for Coe), he went through 1200m in 2:53.4 and covered the last lap in 53.0, last 300m in 39.0, last 200m in 25.6, last 100m in 12.5. He won over a rejuvinated Scott by about 10m.

The only race of Ryun's where I can think he ran anywhere near 2:53, was his 1500 WR in 67, when he went through 1200m in 2:54.0 and ran the last 300m in 39.1. There was no time given for the last 200m, but his last 100m was 13.5.

Another comparison can be made between Coe & Ovett's Mile WRs in 1981. In Ovett's 3:48.40, his last 400m was 56.6 (56.9 440yds) and he slowed quite considerably in the last 100m ~ 14.4
In Coe's run, where the first 3 laps were more erratic in pace, he covered the last 400m in 55.1, and his fastest 100m was the last one, at 13.1.
Having said this, clearly Ovett did not like to run from the front, and Coe had some opposition with 200 to go in the shape of Boit, 10m back. But not only is 1.3secs a big gap for the last 100m, it also shows (as do the other races mentioned above) that Coe must have had unused energy at the end of his races if his last 100m was always his fastest 100m split of the race.

I don't think the same person would win every time out of the 3, if they were to run 10 times. If it were just the 3 of them following 1 rabbit to 1200m in 2:53, then I think Coe would win the most. His turn of speed matched Ovett's, his speed endurance (as shown by his 1000m WR) matched Ryun's and his basic leg speed (45.5 relay split) was better than either of the other 2.

If it was part of a field of 8 or 9 runners, then tactics would come into play more, and that would possibly be in Ovett's favour, as the best tactician of the 3.

And if each of the 10 races were run at a different pace, then I think it would result in different winners. The slower, the better for Ovett. I think if it went off very fast, then that would favour Coe and wouldn't help Ryun, who ran most of his best races when the pace started off slow to steady, preferring to launch his long drive over the last lap. He didn't, as far as I can remember (please correct me if wrong), run any 1500s or miles when the opening lap went 55 or 56. So a fast start would put him psychologically into an area he had never experienced before. Both Coe and Ovett have run fast times of sub 55 sec first laps: - Ovett ~54.4 in his 3:30.77; Coe ~52.4 in his 3:31.95 & 54.0 in his 3:29.77. And Coe of the 3 was the only one who knew what sub 3:30 felt like.

Based on the OP's "original criteria", and the evidence outlined above, as opposed to "favourites" or a hunch as to what they could, would or might have achieved, I'd go for Coe - 6, Ryun and Ovett - 2 each.


Let me first say I have always been impressed by each of these 3 greats finishes at times. But I think your comparison of Ovett's finish in his Koblenz race and Coe's of '84 might be slightly flawed. If your splits are correct (I admit, I was too lazy to look them up) then Coe kicked his 25.7 and 12.7 off of 2:53 pace while Ovett's was off of a 2:50.8 pace. This being the case, I believe 27.0 and 13.3 are equally impressive. But back to the original question, I think it most probably would have been pretty equally split. I just wish we had been treated to these types of Ovett vs Coe races when they actually raced.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby Powell » Tue Aug 02, 2011 1:49 am

lonewolf wrote:Ok, thats six. We need two more to fill 8 lanes before we run this hypothetical race.


You want them to run the 1500 in lanes? :shock: :P
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby lonewolf » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:20 pm

Powell wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Ok, thats six. We need two more to fill 8 lanes before we run this hypothetical race.


You want them to run the 1500 in lanes? :shock: :P

Now, theres a thought. Why not? No rabbit. :)
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby gibson » Fri May 25, 2012 10:29 pm

gh wrote:if it's indeed even with half-lap to go my money is on Ovett nearly every time, with Ryun 2nd, Coe 3rd. Ovett had a gear-shift that was stunning.

But I would posit that (the imaginary) Ryun would never be even at that point; he already would have run away.

great thread!


spoken like a true triple jumper.

ovett's legendary kick only worked off a moderate to slow pace.
coe could kick fast off any pace.
then there is the clock, check the splits. coe wins.
then there is ovett at his peak without super competition.... except for coe.
and then you have the fact? that ovett never defeated coe over the mile or 1500m. right?
but right you are, a peak coe and ovett never met but once.......with coe winning hands down.

78 Euro 800m: Ovett d Coe
80 Olympic 800m: Ovett d Coe
80 Olympic 1500m: Coe d Ovett d Cram
84 Olympic 800m: Coe d Ovett
84 Olympic 1500m: Coe d Cram d Ovett
89 Crystal Palace 1500m: Coe d Ovett

Read more: http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read. ... z1vx0GC57r
i'd be very comfortable betting on a peak coe over a peak anybody in a championship 1500.
and ryan? i have no idea.
Last edited by gibson on Sat May 26, 2012 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby portsea57 » Sat May 26, 2012 10:57 am

Deanouk's stats have certainly convinced me of Coe's superioty, but It would be interesting to hear what the contemporaries of Ovett and Coe would make of this question; Steve Scott - in his autobuography - seemed to be a lot more in awe of Coe than Ovett.
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby deanouk » Sat May 26, 2012 11:30 am

portsea57 said;
It would be interesting to hear what the contemporaries of Ovett and Coe would make of this question; Steve Scott - in his autobuography - seemed to be a lot more in awe of Coe than Ovett.


In the back of Coe's 92 biography by David Miller, the author asked many athletes, athletic journalists and promoters to rank the top milers of all time. This was obviously before the careers of Morceli & EL G, but without exception, they all ranked Coe above Ovett. Those panelled included; Dave Bedford, Chris Brasher, Andreas Brugger (Zurich promoter), Ron Clarke, Stan Greenberg (statistician), Derek Ibbotson, Arthur Lydiard, Peter Matthews (statistician), Wilf Paise (UK coach), Roberto Quercetani (statistician/author), Steve Scott, John Walker and Mel Watman.
In Pat Butcher's book, "The Perfect Distance" he mentions Coghlan's thoughts about the two.

"My coach, Gerry Farnham tried to instal in me that I was the only guy in the world who could beat Ovett, but I think he only managed to do it about 99%. 1 %, I have to admit in hindsight, was always there. Seb Coe, on the other hand, was a different kettle of fish. It was almost like, 'Erm, you ain't gonna beat Coe.' "
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Re: Coe v Ovett v Ryun: 10 races

Postby portsea57 » Sat May 26, 2012 1:09 pm

Moving on to Jim Ryun !
My "Holy Grail" of lost/missing middle-distance tv footage comes from the 1967 USA V West Germany meeting.
In the 1500m it was Ryun and Grelle v Tummler and Norpoth.
By the start of the last lap, Grelle was tailed off, and as the two Germans entered the back straight they took off.
Then - and it took my breath away - Ryun just flew passed them. One website has Ryun running the 100m of the final back straight in 11.6!
Now I know the final time was "only" 3min 38 point something, but, that day, Ryun was out of this world.
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