Alan Webb broke one of America's most venerated sports records when he scorched a 3:46.91 mile in a low-key meet in Brasschaat, Belgium tonight (21), breaking Steve Scott's 25-year-old record of 3:47.69 set in Oslo in 1982.
"It was awesome," said Webb by telephone just after setting the record. Then he joked, "I think I have the world record for the least number of spectators."
His manager, Ray Flynn, estimated that there were between 500 and 1000 people at the track which is set in a forest, bordered by tall trees.
Webb is now the eighth fastest to ever cover the distance, and the eighth to crack the 3:47 barrier.
Running in windless and comfortably warm conditions, Webb knocked off approximate quarters of 56.1, 57.4, 56.8 and 56.2, according to Flynn.
"It's just really been a tremendous year," Webb continued, pointing out that he still has a long career in front of him. "I'm not done. I'm only 24."
Webb, who won the U.S. indoor title at one mile and the outdoor title at 1500m this year, has now registered the fastest time in the world this year for both 1500m (3:30.54) and the mile. His 1500m performance, also a career best, came at the Meeting Gaz de France Paris Saint-Denis 15 days ago, the second stop of the six-meeting IAAF Golden League series. Today's race clearly gave him an added boost on his way to the IAAF World Championships in Osaka next month.
"I'm definitely looking to kick butt at Worlds," he said. "For Osaka, it gives me confidence because I know I can run fast. I think my race in Paris gave me more confidence for Osaka. Today it was me and a couple of pace-setters, so I was alone out there. It's different when you've got other guys around you. Running a championship race is very different than what I did tonight. It gives me confidence and tells me I'm moving in the right direction, but there's still lots of work to be done. Osaka is a separate thing."
David Monti (Race Results Weekly) for the IAAF