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Mile in three and a half minutes 'not far away'

Mile in three and a half minutes 'not far away' says former Australian champion Herb   Elliot

12 October 1999 – Perth, Australia - A three and a half minute mile will be achieved, and possibly in the near future, the former Australian champion was quoted as saying Tuedsay.

"I believe that target will be reached before most expect," Herb Elliott, one of the all-time greats over the classic distance, was quoted as saying in The West Australian daily.

Elliott, 61, said the current world record of 3min 43.13sec, held by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, was about what he had predicted for the end of the 20th century.

"I believe in the next decade we will see further big developments in the mile," he said.

"I think we can go a hell of a lot faster than we are going at the moment."

The pinnacle of Elliott's career was his runaway victory in the 1500 metres (metric mile) final at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Two years earlier, at the age of 19, he had become the youngest runner in the world to break four minutes for the mile.

Elliott says he does not agree with the widely held view that improving world records over middle distances are because of better techniques, diet and medical and equipment design.

"The single biggest change in middle-distance running, from the 1500 metres to 10,000 metres, has been the track surface.

"When we moved from cinders at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, it probably was responsible in my distance for an improvement immediately of four to five seconds."

Elliott said he believed the improvement in the 1500 metres was about the same as in every other middle-distance event.

"It's really just the human being wanting to do better than what has gone before," he said. "If somebody puts the bar up any higher, I am not satisfied until I get over that height. That's what drives us on.

"I don't believe there is an ultimate. I just believe the human race will continue to improve.

"I am a bit of a dreamer. I think we have far more physical power in us than we have learned to unleash at the moment.

"As we learn to understand our mind better than we do, and the connection between mind and body, we will see huge improvements in physical performance."