I want it on record that Rick Wohlhuter was hard as ****.
He also showed big cojones in the ferocious and fantastic Montreal 8 final. All American distance runners should study RW's tactics in the 8. Wolhuter didn't win the race but he gave a masterclass in total commitment at the right moment and giving everything when it counted. He tried to give it to Juantorena and had zip left just before the finish line. It took a WR to beat him and there's just nothing more he could have done, there's no better tactic he could have used. Not many athletes can say that about their Olympic performances. R-e-s-p-e-c-t!
While we're on the subject, the 1976 800 final was a rare gem. In few races, especially 800s, have we seen such total commitment from so many. A number of the other athletes also delivered career-topping performances; Juantorena, Sriram Singh and Van Damme as well as Rick W.
As for putting his career into perspective, it wasn't just that his best year was the non-champ year, in the US at least, of 74. His best distance was also the kilo, neither the 8 nor the 15. His former km WR was described by another famed athlete as a "hard" record. Sebastian Coe made that statement before gunning for it at Oslo in 1980. He was also unjustly overshadowed by Pre in the earlier part of his career.
Wohlhuter gave it everything in the 76 OG 800. No disgrace in his performance there. He would have contended for the 15 win if he hadn't contested the 8, although VanDamme would have been right there with him.
John Walker had no right to win the 76 OG 1500 against RW and IvD or even Coghlan. But he prevailed by force of mind and excellent tactics, catching everyone flat-footed down the backstretch even though they should have expected his move.
In the 15, I think RW was burned out by the rounds and by the previous savagery of the way the Montreal 800 was run in all of its rounds. He did still pick up Olympic hardware in his main event, which is as always much easier said than done (Rupp, Webb, Kennedy, etc.)