Steve Ovett strode to a world record in the mile today, shortly after his British countryman and former record holder Sebastian Coe had cracked the world mark in the 1,000-meter race.
The intense, introverted Ovett broke Coe's year-old mile mark with a clocking of 3 minutes 48.8 seconds over the lightning-fast Bislett Stadium track. The record of 3:49.0 had been set by Coe a year ago over the that track.
Coe had beaten the 1,000 mark with a time of 2:13.40, breaking the record of 2:13.90 set by Rick Wohlhuter of the United States in 1976.
The two British middle-distance stars are not the best of friends, and have avoided racing against each other before the upcoming Olympics in Moscow.
In the mile, Ovett extended his unbeaten streak to 42. During the mile, Coe received a standing ovation from the crowd of 22,500 while nervously watching Ovett go after the record. Ovett, nicknamed "Mr. Arrogance" for his attitude toward fans and the press, was one-tenth of a second behind Coe's record pace only 100 meters from the finish. But his strong finishing kick got him the record.
Ovett headed a 1-2-3 British finish. Stephen Cram was second in 3.53.8 and Graham Williamson was third in 3.56.4.
"It tastes terrific," Ovett said after crossing the finish line. "One of the big goals this year was to take the record from Coe."
Ovett, 25, then walked away from newsmen and refused further comment.
The marked unfriendliness between Coe and Ovett was apparent Monday night when the man behind the Bislett competition, Arne Haukvik, invited the athletes to his home for a feast of strawberries.
Ovett was present, in great spirits until the arrival of Coe, at which point he left the party, refusing even to be photographed with his rival.
The 1,000 meters was Coe's last major race before the Olympics starting July 19. After the race, he said he would be speed training while waiting for the Games to start.
Coe's record run gave him four world marks -- but only temporarily.
He set the mile and the 800-meter record of 1:42.4 last year at Bislett Stadium. The other, set in 1979 at Zurich, was 3:32.0 for 1,500 meters. All three races were run within 41 days.
The 22-year-old student faded slightly over the final 200 meters of today's 1,000, but finished well ahead of runner-up Willi Wuhlbeck of West Germany, who set a national record of 2:14.53.
John Walker of New Zealand, the Olympic 1,500-meter champion, finished third in 2:16.57, also a national record.
Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland ran a strong 3,000 meters, winning in 7:37.60. Thomas Wessinghage of West Germany was second in 7.38.89 and Tanzania's Filbert Bayi took third in 7.39.27.
Renaldo Nehemiah of the United States easily beat Rod Milburn in the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.34 seconds. Milburn, the 1972 Olympic champion, was second in 13.62.
Olympic discus champion Mac Wilkins of the United States avenged his loss to Norway's Knut Hjeltnes last Sunday, winning with a throw of 220 feet. Hjeltnes was second at 219-2.