I agree with a lot of what you write, generally, but I think it’s unfair to compare severity of injury. It was clear that all 3, Elliott, Cram and Aouita, were effected by injury problems in Seoul 88.
The lesson they failed to learn is just how difficult it is to run both 800 and 1500 in the same Olympics, or indeed any championship. Cram was already carrying an injury a couple of weeks before Seoul, then got knocked out in the rounds of the 800m. I don’t have much sympathy with him in that instant, because he got greedy and still went into both events, rather than pull out of the 800, give someone else (i. e. The WR holder in the event) a chance to win a medal, and rest and recover in time for the 1500m. I think had he done this, he would have medalled in the 1500 and possibly still won it.
Elliott’s injury was masked by having pain killer injections. He was in pain without them, but I don’t think he had any long term problems with it. Again, he could have pulled out of the 800 to give himself more chance in the 1500m.
With Aouita’s injury, it looked like it was being made worse with each round of the 800, but by the time of the semi he probably knew that the damage was done and he wouldn’t be able to line up for the 15. He probably thought his only chance was to go ‘all out’ in the 800 final.
I do think there was a bit of avoidance on Aouita’s part in 84, but I don’t think he was scared of Elliott and Cram in 88, the way he had been about a Coe, Ovett, Cram line up in LA. He must have been thanking his lucky stars when Coe was not selected after his debacle in the UK trials!
Elliot was 27 when he ran 1:42 and won the Commonwealth 1500 in 1990, not 30, and it is stretching it a bit to acknowledge him as a 1:42 man when he actually ran 1:42.97. I tend to call that a 1:43, or 1:42 high at best.
I wouldn’t say that Aouita ran poorly in Zurich Mile in 84. It was a typical reflection of his then ability. It was made to look a little less impressive due to Walker running much better than he had run for a few years in chasing the Moroccan, and due to Coe’s superior finish in the 1500 the same evening.
Aouita’s 3:49.5 was perhaps slightly inferior to Coe’s 3:32.3 that night, but Aouita still managed a last 400 of 53.3 and last 300 of 39.3. Compare this with Coe’s 53.0/39.0. However, Coe’s last 100m was 12.5, looking sublime and with a lot left in the tank, whereas Aouita seemed to struggle to run a 12.9.