MONTE CARLO - Even world record holder David Rudisha knew that fast-improving Alex Rowe was chasing the 46-year-old Australian mark in a stacked 800m at the Herculis Diamond League meet yesterday morning.
Remarkably, the record has stood since the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, when Ralph Doubell powered home to win gold in one minute 44.40 seconds.
Rowe, 22, moved to third on the Australian alltime list with a time of 1:44.74 in Belgium earlier this month.
A third straight European victory in Switzerland on Tuesday night then earned him a shock invitation to one of the most prestigious track and field meets on the planet.
He was to make the most of it, especially with Rudisha's regular pacemaker Sammy Tangui on hand to ensure that the speed would be on from the start in Monte Carlo.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about the Australian record," Rowe said yesterday.
"That is definitely something I would love to achieve here.
"But if I don't, I have still had a great season so far and I still have the Commonwealth Games to look forward to.
"It would be great to get that record but, if not, I am 22 and have another eight years to get it.
"It is not the be-all and end-all, it is just a good opportunity."