Those neck-and-neck milers

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It is being written up as a duel between titans of the track, and it is indeed hard to see the contest that has developed between the two brilliant British middle-distance runners, Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, in any other terms, Monitor contributor Alexander MacLeod reports.

Last week Ovett, running in Koblenz, West Germany, sliced a shade over 0.1 of a second off Coe's world record for the English mile. Forty-eight hours later Coe, pitting himself against an international field in Brussels, snatched the record back by a margin of 1.07 seconds.

Already Ovett is said to be plotting his revenge, possibly in a race in which the two milers will at last meet on the same track. For that is one of the ironies of the athletic battle the two speedsters have been waging. They have been playing shuttlecock with world records without actually confronting each other.

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Commentators have begun to insist that it is time the two athletes stopped running against the clock and started running against each other for the delectation of the British public.

Nobody doubts that Ovett and Coe, who have so far lowered the record by 2.07 seconds, are the best performers in the world over a mile and 1,500 meters. But the question is, how great are they, and who will turn out to be the faster man?

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