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  • Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

    In 1976, I was a Boit/Walker fan, my friend and teammate a Juantorena/Bayi guy. We both got a "boycott" and he got two golds to my one. It's always intrigued me a bit as to how Walker could get booted from the 800 in his heat (3rd in 1:47.6 behind Frank Clement in 1:47.5 and James Robinson in 1:47.6, two move on plus four or six fastest) then come back and win the 1500, in kickers' race no less. His 800 PR going in was 1:44.9 ('74), ranked 5th in the world in 1974, and was even picked by one of the Seers (TAFNEWS prognosticators) for a bronze (none of the others even picked him top six.) Was there ever anyone else who bombed so completely in the 800 then came back to win the 1500 in such a major meet? I don't want to promote a "is there such a thing as an 800/1500 runner" thread, I think that's been tackled elsewhere. Now, maybe there's not such a thing, but back then...Snell, Ryun, Wottle, Boit, Van Damme, Wohluter, Coe, Ovett etc.

    Walker was fresh off his wonderful 2000m record so was fit over the longer distance. He described the 800 loss as a blessing in disguise, allowing him to work on his speed/finish...how much can one polish that in the five off-days between the 800 loss and the 1500 heat? Then the 1500 final goes out in a terribly slow pace (2:03.2 for 1200) and he finishes in 25.4/52.7. Maybe this was no big deal, just a strength 1500 guy with a marginal chance in the 800, caught off guard and a tad bit slow in the 800 heat, but to a 14 yo fan, it didn't bode well for his 1500 chances.

  • #2
    Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

    Didnt Ryan run badly in the 800 in 72 olympic trials and come back and win the 1500 with a 51 last 400.
    phsstt!

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    • #3
      Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

      A little before my time. I remember some of the OG but not any of the OT...I was 10.

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      • #4
        Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

        RyUn was fourth (fifth?) in the trials 800 before winning the 1500 final.

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        • #5
          Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

          anybody know Ryans's times?
          phsstt!

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          • #6
            Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

            >anybody know Ryans's times?

            Which Ryan is this? Is it Jack Ryan? http://www.clancyfaq.com/john.htm#Jack
            No record of running, even at collegiate level.

            What about Seb Coe's (bombing!?) in Moscow 800, then returning to win the metric mile?

            I would say that Walker was fast relative to milers, but not so fast relative to half-milers. Nothing unusual in that.

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            • #7
              Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

              yeah jack ryan who won 1500 at 72 olympic trials
              phsstt!

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              • #8
                Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                I saw Walker in Montreal in both the 800 heats and the 1500 final. Of course it is silly to assume from spectating what a runner's emotional situation might be, but I came away with the impression that Walker simply refused to be defeated in the 1500 but looked not too disappointed to be left out in the 800. He gave the impression of simply cruising in the shorter race but was deadly serious in the longer one.

                And trying to figure out Ryun in 1972 would be much more difficult than second guessing Walker four years later. Ryun's season that year was an astounding mix of mind-boggling workouts that produced some very high quality races and, also, some of the worst performances ever by a WR-holder. He was on some sort of physical/emotional roller-coaster that cannot, logical, be applied as an analogy for any other runner.

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                • #9
                  Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                  From the T&FN coverage (is there a better place to look?), story by RL Quercetani

                  <<...The winner's time was no better than 1:47.5 (we're really super-demanding these days, aren't we?) but the last 100 must have been among the fastest. Said Walker, "I guess I took it out too slow. Just didn't have it in the stretch, did I?" In fact, he did look upset and didnt' really want to talk.....>>

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                  • #10
                    Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                    What about Seb Coe's (bombing!?) in Moscow 800, then
                    >returning to win the metric mile?

                    I don't think his silver qualifies as a major flameout. Sure, he was the favorite and the WR holder, but it wasn't like Walker's loss, in a heat. It was to a great middle distance runner.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                      1972 OT 800:

                      Wottle 1:44.3 = WR
                      Wohlhuter 1:45.0
                      Swenson 1:45.1
                      Ryun 1:45.2
                      Philips 1:45.3
                      Brown 1:45.4
                      Philippe 1:46.0
                      Fulton 1:47.3

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                      • #12
                        Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                        thanx fer da info
                        does anyone have splits and what was wohlhuter p.r. before this race, he was a stud
                        phsstt!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                          Didn't Ryun run something ridiculous from 400 to 600?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                            >intrigued me a bit as to how Walker could get booted from the 800 in his heat then come back and win the 1500, in kickers' race no less.

                            Walker nursed ridiculously sore/tight Achillies tendons all year (kept as quiet as possible), so he and his coach Arch Jelley probably shyed away from severe speedwork, avoiding as much as possible the inevitable "pop." His 2,000m. record was a planned move--like Viren used to do--to bust a great time just before The Games to blow everyone's mind.

                            It worked. A replay of the final will show the entire field keying off Walker, in essence, letting him make the first move. Off the slow pace and his getting put out of the 800m. final, they all KNEW they would run him down.

                            The guy with the best chance, talent-wise, was the late Ivo Van Damme. Positioned perfectly almost the entire race (in relation to Walker), Van Damme got boxed out by Australian Graham Crouch right at the gun and had to back up and go around Crouch and Rick Wohlhuter on the curve. By the time Van Damme got free with 300m. to go, Walker had already made his move. Van Damme flew, making up the initial gap, but the effort cost him in the stretch.

                            I'm not much for kicker's races, but I can honestly say--all individual strengths and weaknesses of the athletes considered--this was one of the most fascinating and dramatic events I have ever seen in Track & Field. Whether the first time I saw it or on tape replay, I still cannot look away; the anticipation of who and when is still thrilling--my criteria for a "classic."

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                            • #15
                              Re: Walker's OG 800 loss/1500 win

                              I remember Ryun scorching the third 200 of the 72 FOT's, then tying up in the final straight.
                              Considering the Montreal 1500 final, you have to factor in the rounds. That could explain Walker outstrengthing the field (same for Viren in the 5k).

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