Yes, very interesting, especially comparing current (Americans) to the stars of the past. Admittedly he was specifically asked about specific athletes very familiar to an American audience (Centro, Rupp, Jager) but these guys are pretty near the top of the heap which includes the East African All-Stars. It seems to me - and Canova - that the era of El G, Komen, Bekele, Cherono/Shaheed is untouchable by more recent generations. Only a couple more waves of runners have come along since then as a 'generation' can be longer in distance running than, say, pop music. So it could just be that the genetic lottery was hit perfectly for several events at about the same time and maybe 5 years from now we see a 1500 record, then 8 years later 10k and so forth - we just wait for than one-in-a-million genetic anomoly to show up.
I never have been one to jump on the MB with the usual explanation as to why the Lance Armstrong-era produce records that can't be approached now. Renato seems to acknowledge that something was different then. When asked about some of the guys very near the pinnacle of performances this year and last, he admits they're not in the league of the record holders from 1500 - 10k. I even tell non-track fans that those records have stopped coming down and that the men's marathon has simply been catching up to what extrapolation would predict if charted from Komen - Bekele - Tadese (or from Radcliffe - do the math either way).
However, it starts to seems strange. Even one of the great coaches from a few years back as well as now sees that something was going on. Again, I never really jump on the bandwagon of condemning all athletes (baseball, track etc, etc) active at the turn-of-the-century, but an expert on distance performance is quick to point out that Shaheen, for example, is in that category that some rock magazines put Hendrix: no one today is close. I'm starting to think some was in the water, if you know what I mean.