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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Coe tips Holmes for glory
By Phil Gordos
BBC Sport in Athens

Lord Coe is tipping Kelly Holmes to do what he failed to do - complete an historic Olympic 800m and 1500m double.

Kelly Homes celebrates her 800m victory
Coe is backing Holmes to add the 1500m title to her 800m gold

Holmes became the first British woman since Anne Packer in 1964 to taste 800m glory at the Games when she powered to the line inches ahead of Jolanda Ceplak and Hasna Benhassi on Monday.

Now the 34-year-old from Kent has her sights firmly set on the longer discipline.

And Coe says Holmes has the weapons in her armoury to pull it off.

"She's got the leg speed, she's got the conditioning and she can make the distance," insisted Coe. "She's also very tough.

"The big issue for Kelly is maintaining focus," said Coe, who made three unsuccessful attempts at winning both the 800m and 1500m at a single Olympics, while fellow legend of the track Steve Ovett also tried and failed

The 1500m is the event Holmes was always going to run in Athens, unlike the 800m, which she only decided to run at the last minute.

And Coe says she "has as good a chance as any".

"In fact she probably a better chance than anybody in the history of the sport that has gone for this," he said

Holmes, who eased through her 1500m heat on Tuesday, will face stiff opposition from Russians Olga Yegorova and Natalya Yevdokimova.

It was one of the best 800m races I've ever seen
Seb Coe on the 800m final

The former army sergeant could end up running a total of six races in nine days, but Coe is confident she can take her second gold of the Games.

"Without putting too much pressure on her, she's more than capable of winning this one," he said.

"I don't think running five or six races is going to be a problem. There's not much they can throw at her that she's not going to be able to respond to.

"But this is not going to be a walk in the park.

"I tried it on three occasions. Steve (Ovett) tried it on a numerous occasions. It's not easy.

"Peter Snell is the only person in modern track and field to achieve it. It's doable but I don't like putting odds on it because there are no stone-cold certainties at this level."

Coe was mightily impressed with Holmes' win in the 800m and told her so at the medal presentation.

"It was the perfect race," he said. "The 800m is the most complicated distance on the track but she got it absolutely right.

"She sat off the pace, which was absolutely vital.

Steve Ovett, Steve Cram and Seb Coe at the LA Olympics in 1984
Coe (right) never managed to win the 800m/1500m Olympic double

"They were going through at a suicidal speed and were never going to keep that up.

"I'm sure there were lots of people sitting in the stands thinking Kelly's too far off the pace.

"But as soon as I saw the time for the first lap, I thought she was going to win because she was always going to be stronger than the other women in the finishing straight."

Coe added: "There's not one part of the race you can fault.

"The last few strides were a bit hairy but it's the point in the race where there's nothing anybody else can do anyway.

"It was a phenomenal run. It was one of the best 800m races I've ever seen."

If she can repeat that effort in the 1500m Holmes, who is now 6/4 favourite with British bookmakers for the event, will do what no other Briton has done before.

She will also emulate the feat of Russian great Svetlana Masterkova, who won both the 800m and 1500m in Atlanta eight years ago.

Coe is bullish about the Briton's chances - and there's no finer judge.





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