IT is rare a major championships middle-distance final produces a world record and it is a greater rarity, regardless of the setting, a world record is set in a competitive race. However, the 800m final in Montreal met both criteria as the first four ducked under Valentina Gerasimova’s world record of 1:56.0.
The likelihood of a tactical race was lessened as the first 300m was still run in lanes at major championships and indeed, Svetlana Styrkina reached the bell in a lightning-fast 55.05. Unsurprisingly, the tempo slowed in the third-quarter as the field bunched together and Anita Weiss from East Germany held a narrow lead into the home straight.
Weiss, however, began to tire as Tatyana Kazankina timed her effort perfectly. The quick-striding Soviet ran a much more even-paced final as she moved from fifth with 80m remaining to win her first of three Olympic titles in 1:54.94.
The final also concluded what must have been a rather deflating Games for world record-holder Gerasimova who was tamely eliminated in the semi-finals.