Q&A: Allan Wells
The Scots Olympian who won 100m gold in the 1980 Moscow Games discusses the possibility of marathon runners breaking through the two-hour barrier, after Haile Gebrselassie ran two hours, three minutes and 59 seconds in Berlin.
Can we really run a marathon in less than two hours?
Yes. I don't think it's unreal to think they can run a marathon in under two hours. I think it's going to happen.
What's the timescale? Will it happen in the next five years?
I think it could happen in the next decade. Haile Gebrselassie is a phenomenal runner, but there's still a long way to go. There's always reason to believe that these things could be done better.
Where's the cut-off point? Do we get to a stage where we can't improve further?
Some things we just can't answer. But in another 50 years they might be running faster than we could have ever believed at the moment. Progression is part of human nature, and we are all striving as athletes at the top level to be the best. Each generation is going to strive for more, so it's difficult to imagine a cut-off point.
In 1896, the world's best athletes were running a marathon in just under three hours. What has made the difference?
Science has a lot to do with it. There are a number of different factors, like training regimes and food. Athletes can make a little money from athletics, and that can influence and inspire them. It's as crude as that. You have to look at their bonuses for running like this. They have every right to it.
How much is to do with genetics and how much to do with environment?
Both play a part. My brother ran 800 metres and was quite reasonable. I knew I had something that wee bit special, and from an early age it was recognisable. It's a big bonus if someone is a natural athlete. But you still need the environmental factors and for people to recognise the talent and work on it. Having the right resources and back-up team helps.
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