Ramzi doubles up to win the replay of famous final
Twenty-five years on from one of the most memorable of Olympic 800 metres finals, Helsinki staged something of a repeat, with a 1500-metre man taking on the two-lap specialist, and winning.
With the two protagonists from Moscow in 1980, Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe, watching from the stands of the Olympic Stadium, Rashid Ramzi, of Bahrain, won his second gold medal of the week, as he out-thought and out-fought Yuri Borzakovski, Russia's Olympic gold medallist.
Ramzi, the 25-year-old former Moroccan, became the first man to win the 800-1500 metres double at the World Championships, as he clocked a lifetime best 1min 44.24 sec, with Borzakovski chasing him down the straight, in vain, to record 1:44.51, just ahead of William Yiampoy (1:44.55), who won the battle of the Kenyans from Wilfred Bungei (1:44.98).
A quarter of a century ago, of course, Coe, now a peer of the realm in Britain, had gone to his first Olympics as the 800m world record-holder, where he was to be pitted against the steely racer, Ovett. In their first clash then, Coe had switched off halfway round the final lap, and Ovett slipped away, never to be caught.
The 2005 replay seemed to replicate so much of the events, this time with the Moscow-based Borzakovski, the gold medallist in Athens, somehow losing contact with the leaders down the back straight and giving himself too much to do once Ramzi had set off for home.
Bungei and Mansoor Ali, the 16-year-old Bahrainian, had been the quickest to the break at 130 metres, and flew through the 200-metre marker in 24.96, and reached the bell in 52.48, with Borzakovski cruising up on the outside, with Mehdi Baala going with him, and Djabir Said-Guerni, the defending champion, moving through the middle of the group to hold third place.
But the Russian drifted back down the backstraight, just at the point when Ramzi was positioning himself to strike.
"I learned from my mistakes in Athens," Ramzi said.
The 600-metre point was reached by Bungei in 1:18.24, with Ramzi at his shoulder and Borzakovski at least eight metres off the pace in seventh.
Once Ramzi hit the home straight, he accelerated to leave the Kenyans in their own private battle in lane one. Outside him, Borzakovski was making a desperate bid to repeat his successful sit-and-wait tactics from the Olympics 12 months ago. But it was all too late.
"I lost the race at the 600-metre mark. I was closed in behind Baala and lost my rhythm," Borzakovski said, ruing what might have been.