Allan Wells

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Allan Wipper Wells MBE (born 3 May 1952) is a former Scottish athlete, who became Olympic Champion in the 100 metres at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.[1]



Born in Edinburgh, Wells was educated at Liberton High School. Wells, initially a triple jumper and long jumper and crowned Scottish indoor Long Jump champion in 1974, began concentrating on sprint events in 1976. In 1977 he won the AAA's Indoor 60 metres title, and won his first of seven outdoor Scottish sprint titles.

Wells's big breakthrough came at the start of the 1978 season, when his times and victories began to improve, and he won the UK 100/200 Championships. British sprinters had made little impression on the international scene, and the sight of the Scot winning two gold medals (200 m, 4 x 100 m), and a silver (100 m) at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was a surprise for British athletics fans.

This success continued in 1979, when he won the European Cup 200 metres in Turin, Italy, beating the new World record holder Pietro Mennea on his home ground; he also finished 3rd in the 100 metres.

At the start of the 1980 season, Wells won the AAA's 100 metres, then went to the Côte d'Azur to finish preparing for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Wells never used starting blocks, until a rule change forced him to do so for the Moscow Olympics. In Moscow, Wells qualified for the final, with a new British record 10.11 s, where he faced pre-race favourite Silvio Leonard of Cuba. By 60 metres the field were fading, and by 80 metres the race was between Leonard on the inside and Wells on the outside. Wells edged ahead, but Leonard drew even again. With seven metres to go Wells began an extreme lean which allowed his head and shoulder to cross the finish line 3 inches before Leonard's chest in a photo finish. Afterward both Wells and Leonard set a final time of 10.25 s, but Wells became the oldest Olympic 100 m champion at that time.[2]

The 200 m final was another close affair. Wells made up the stagger after only 50 metres. Coming out of the turn he had a two-metre lead over Leonard, with Quarrie and Mennea close behind. But Mennea shifted gears in the straight until he caught Wells with 10 metres to go. Wells attempted a final dip which had brought him victory in the 100, but he fell short, and Wells won the silver medal behind Pietro Mennea, who beat him by 0.02 s; again he set a British record of 20.21 s.

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