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Athletics at the 1980 Moskva Summer Games:

Men's 1,500 metres

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Host City: Moskva, Soviet Union
Venue(s): Grand Arena, Central Lenin Stadium Area, Moskva
Date Started: July 30, 1980
Date Finished: August 1, 1980

Gold: GBR Seb Coe
Silver: GDR Jürgen Straub
Bronze: GBR Steve Ovett

Summary

By 1980, the two top milers in the world were both from Great Britain – Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. Ovett had won the 1978 European Championship. Coe came to the fore in the summer of 1979 when he broke the world records for 800 metres, 1,500 metres, and the mile. At the Dubai Golden Mile on 17 July, he ran 3:48.95 to break John Walker's mile record. A few weeks later, at the Weltklasse Meet in Zürich, he ran 3:32.03 to better Filbert Bayi's record for 1,500 metres. But Ovett had been ranked #1 in the world in 1977-78 and he fought back, posting times of 3:49.57 and 3:32.11. Then on 21 May 1980, at the Crystal Palace in London, Ovett broke Coe's world mile record, running 3:48.8. And in early June, at Bislett Stadium in Oslo, he ran 3:32.09 for 1,500 metres. In that era both his mark and Coe's world record of 3:32.03 were rounded up to 3:32.1 and Ovett had another world record.

The Moskva Olympics were sorely affected by the American-led boycott, and two runners who were missed were John Walker, the defending champion, and American Steve Scott. But the British Olympic Association defied their government and Great Britain entered a team, allowing both Coe and Ovett to compete. Earlier in the Olympics, they both ran the 800, where Coe was considered the stronger runner because of his greater speed. But Ovett won that race in a slight upset, Coe getting the silver medal. In the 1,500 final, the pace was absurdly slow, passing 800 in 2:04.9. The West German Jürgen Straub then began a sustained kick, trying to draw out the field. It played into Coe's hands, who could maintain high speed longer than anyone. He pulled up to Straub on the final curve and passed him at the start of the homestretch, holding him off in the straight, with Ovett finishing third.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Seb Coe 23 Great Britain GBR Gold
2 Jürgen Straub 26 East Germany GDR Silver
3 Steve Ovett 24 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 Andreas Busse 21 East Germany GDR
5 Vittorio Fontanella 27 Italy ITA
6 Jozef Plachý 31 Czechoslovakia TCH
7 José Marajo 25 France FRA
8 Steve Cram 19 Great Britain GBR
9 Dragan Zdravković 20 Yugoslavia YUG
5 h1 r2/3 Vladimir Malozemlin 24 Soviet Union URS
6 h1 r2/3 Antti Loikkanen 25 Finland FIN
6 h2 r2/3 Robert Nemeth 22 Austria AUT
7 h1 r2/3 João Campos 21 Portugal POR
7 h2 r2/3 Vitaliy Tyshchenko 22 Soviet Union URS
8 h1 r2/3 Alex Gonzalez 29 France FRA
8 h2 r2/3 José Luis González 22 Spain ESP
9 h1 r2/3 Mehdi Aidet 26 Algeria ALG
9 h2 r2/3 Mirosław Żerkowski 23 Poland POL
5 h1 r1/3 Pavel Yakovlev 22 Soviet Union URS
5 h2 r1/3 Pierre Délèze 21 Switzerland SUI
6 h1 r1/3 José Manuel Abascal 22 Spain ESP
6 h2 r1/3 Haile Zeru 25 Ethiopia ETH
6 h3 r1/3 Ray Flynn 23 Ireland IRL
6 h4 r1/3 Kassa Balcha 24 Ethiopia ETH
7 h1 r1/3 Mopeli Molapo 22 Lesotho LES
7 h2 r1/3 Abderrahmane Morceli 23 Algeria ALG
7 h3 r1/3 Nigusse Bekele 20 Ethiopia ETH
7 h4 r1/3 Jón Diðriksson 25 Iceland ISL
8 h1 r1/3 Khaled Khalifa 22 Kuwait KUW
8 h2 r1/3 Sant Kumar 20 India IND
8 h3 r1/3 Archfell Musango 21 Zambia ZAM
8 h4 r1/3 Derradji Harek 20 Algeria ALG
9 h1 r1/3 Vicente Santos Mozambique MOZ
9 h2 r1/3 Ishmael Mhaladi 32 Botswana BOT
9 h3 r1/3 Tisbite Rakotoarisoa 28 Madagascar MAD
9 h4 r1/3 Marzouk Mabrouk Libya LBA
10 h2 r1/3 George Branche 27 Sierra Leone SLE
10 h3 r1/3 Lê Quang Khải 27 Vietnam VIE
10 h4 r1/3 Mohamed Makhlouf 22 Syria SYR
11 h2 r1/3 Damien Degboe Benin BEN