10 July 2009
In the last of our series leading up to this weekend's Aviva World Trials and UK Championships, Peter Elliot recalls one of the most famous trials races of all time, the 1500m in 1984, where the stage was set for a battle between himself and the defending Olympic 1500m champion Seb Coe for the final 1500m slot:
“I remember going into it that that it was just another 1500m trial race. I remember arriving at the Queens Hotel where we were staying during the weekend and someone handing me a programme for the event – in the centre pages there was a spread titled ‘The Apprentice takes on the Master’ about me against Seb Coe – it was then I realised it had turned a little bit serious.
“The race itself was a good one to watch. Seb went past me on the bend and cut in a bit and I stumbled a little before recovering and going round him again. I crossed the line first and thought that was it – after all that was the criteria for being selected - winning the trials!
“But then of course we had the repercussions, the ‘Coe Must Go’ campaign and as it was he was selected for the 1500m ahead of me. I was 21 and a bit young and mouthy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but even not long after when I looked back it was clear that when I beat him I was at my peak – performing at my best for the Olympic Trials - whereas when Seb lost to me, he was clearly an athlete whose season was being prepared to peak at the Olympic Games... which is exactly what he did. The selectors made the right decision and Seb went on to defend his 1500m title at the Games.
“Selection is a difficult job – and nobody has courted more controversy than I have in my career! First athletes past the post is fine but there will always be an exception – someone who isn’t quite right on the day who should be at the major championships – so I think it’s right that we don’t close ourselves off to that option.
“As it was I enjoyed watching Seb win – people might have thought I didn’t want him to succeed in LA but no-one was shouting for him more than I was that day.”