Sebastian Coe's last major competition in an illustrious track career got off to a bad start today when the middle-distance ace was beaten out of the medals in the Commonwealth Games' 800-meter run.
The 33-year-old Englishman, the biggest name among track and field athletes on hand for this 57-nation sports festival, managed only sixth place in a race marred by shoving and pushing. Samuel Tirop of Kenya won the race.
"I didn't feel very sharp. It's as simple as that," said Coe, holder of the world 800-meter record. Coe was up with the leaders with 200 meters to go but failed to find his trademark electrifying sprint finish.
"I'll just have to put it out of my mind and soldier on," he said.
Coe, who will retire to a career in politics after these games, has another shot at a medal in the 1,500 on Saturday.
Coe's appearance was overshadowed by the performance of Australia's Andrew Lloyd, a self-confessed fun runner who had never won a medal in major international competition.
He produced one of the most dramatic finishes in track history in edging Olympic champion John Ngugi to win the 5,000 by less than 1/10th of a second.
The race was marred by two separate falls at almost exactly the same mark on the track. Ngugi was one of the victims but recovered to take a commanding lead and looked invincible with 200 meters to go.
But he misjudged the pace and was caught at the line by Lloyd, who burst free from a four-man pack on the final turn.
"On the day, everyone is beatable, but I didn't expect to beat the Kenyans," Lloyd said. "I expected to try and get a bronze as my main target. But I did the medal count a bit better than I thought."
In other track events, there was a British sweep of the medals in the men's 200. Marcus Adam took the gold in 20.10 seconds, followed by John Regis in 20.16 and Ade Mafe in 20.26.