Sebastian Coe

Sebastian Coe

Infobox Politician
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable
name = The Lord Coe
honorific-suffix = KBE

imagesize = 170px
caption =
birth_date = Birth date and age|1956|09|29|df=y
birth_place =
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
party = Conservative
spouse =
relations =
children =
alma_mater = Loughborough University
occupation = Peer and Athlete
profession =
religion =

website =
footnotes =

Sebastian Newbold Coe, Baron Coe, KBE (born 29 September 1956, and often nicknamed Seb Coe) [ [ The Big Interview: Seb Coe - The Times, July 2008] ] is a British former top-level athlete and former Conservative Party politician. In his athletics career as a middle distance runner, Coe won the 1500 m gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984, and set eight outdoor and three indoor world records. Following his retirement from athletics, he served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1992-97, and became a life peer in 2000. He was the head of the London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and, after the International Olympic Committee announced London as the winning bid, became the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (the organisation in charge of overseeing the development of the Games). On 22 August 2007, Lord Coe was elected a vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Athletics career

Coe won four Olympic medals and set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle distance track events (and also participated in a world record relay). His rivalries with fellow Britons Steve Ovett and Steve Cram dominated middle-distance racing for much of the 1980s. [ [ BBC SPORT | BBC TEAM | Sebastian Coe ] ]

Coe was born in West London, but was brought up in Sheffield attending Tapton [ [ Daily Telegraph article] ] and Abbeydale Grange schools. He joined athletics team Hallamshire Harriers at the age of 12, and quickly became a middle-distance specialist. He is probably better remembered as representing Loughborough University and later Harringay when not competing for his country. [ [ Sebastian Coe, Made in Sheffield ] ]

He was coached by his father, Peter Coe, who designed workouts specifically for his son. Coe studied economics and social history at Loughborough University and won his first major race in 1977—an 800-metre event at the European indoor championships in San Sebastián, Spain.

He first ran against Ovett in a schools cross country race in 1972. Neither won, nor did they win in their first major encounter in the European Championships Prague in 1978 in an 800 metre race, where Ovett was second and Coe finished third behind the East German Olaf Beyer. The next year on two occasions in Oslo, Norway, Coe set his first world records in the 800-metre (1:42.33) and mile (3:48.95) races. Later that year, he set the world 1500 metre record (3:32.03) in Zurich, Switzerland.

The most famous races between Ovett and Coe were in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, where each won the other's speciality, Ovett the 800 metres, and Coe the 1500 metres (Coe came in second in the 800, while Ovett took third in the 1500). It was Ovett's first defeat at either one mile or 1500 metres in three years and 45 races. The image of Coe crossing the finish line arms outstretched, eyes rolling and mouth agape [ [ The image, at Sports Illustrated] ] was much reproduced. [ [ Sebastian Coe: You Ask The Questions - People, News - ] ]

Coe broke Rick Wohlhuter's world record for 1,000-metres in 1980 with a time of 2:13.40, a time he managed to better in 1981 with a sterling 2:12.18. This world record for the kilometer would stand for the next 18 years. 1981 also saw him better the standard for the mile twice, first with a 3:48.53 in Zürich and then with a 3:47.33 in Brussels. The other world record Coe set that summer came in the 800 metre race in Florence in June. That world record of 1:41.73 in the 800-metres remained unbeaten until August 1997 when it was tied and then broken by Wilson Kipketer. As of 2008 Kipketer is the only person to have run the 800-metres faster than Coe. Coe's record still stands as the UK record. To his two mile world records Coe also added a personal best of 3:31.95 in the 1,500 meters. He remained undefeated in both the 1,500 meters/mile and the 800 meters (including wins in the 1981 World Cup and European Cup). Not surprisingly, Coe was voted Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News magazine (an honour he had previously won in 1979).

Although he had a short season in 1982, he still managed to rank number one in the world in the 800 metres and participate in a world record relay for the 4 x 800 metres. Coe, along with Peter Elliott, Garry Cook and Steve Cram, produced a 7:03.89, a time that would stand as a world record for 24 years until it was bettered by both Kenyan and American teams in the summer of 2006. He won silver at 800m in the 1982 European Championships in Athletics in Athens after being surprisingly out-kicked by Hans-Peter Ferner.

Although 1983 started out promisingly enough, with world indoor records in the 800 metres (1:44.91, breaking his own WR of 1:46.0 from 1981) in Cosford, England and then in the 1,000 metres (2:18.58) in Oslo, Norway, along with promising early summer results in the 800 m, he spent most of the rest of the year battling health problems (including a prolonged bout with toxoplasmosis) and consequently had to skip the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Athletics. [ [ Olympics bid: Coe's finest race - Times Online ] ]

After recovering from glandular fever, Coe returned to competition in 1984 and showed encouraging form early in the season. He was selected for both 800 and 1500 metres at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. For his fourth major international championships in succession, however, he failed to win his favourite 800 metre event, taking silver behind Joaquim Cruz of Brazil. However, just as in 1980, he recovered to win gold in the 1500 metres, this time in a new Olympic record of 3:32.53, beating 1983 World 1500 m champion Steve Cram into second place. He remains the only person to win back to back Olympic 1500 metre titles. Following the race Cram made the often repeated quote "On the day there was only one man and on the day Seb Coe was that man". Cram exacted some measure of revenge the following summer when he beat both Coe and his world mile record at the Dream Mile event at the Bislett Stadium, Oslo, Norway.

In 1986, Coe finally won a gold medal over 800m at the European Championships in Stuttgart, beating Tom McKean and Cram. [ [,,1830815,00.html Frozen in time: 28 August 1986 | Sport | The Observer ] ] It was his only 800m title at an international championship, although he had won the 800m at the 1981 World Cup and 1981 European Cup. He won the silver in the 1500 metres, behind Cram. 1986 also saw Coe set a personal best over 1500m with a 3:29.77 min performance in Rieti, Italy, becoming the fourth man in history to break 3:30 for the 1500m. For the fourth time in his career ('79,'81,'82,'86), Coe ended the year ranked number one in the world in the 800 metres.

Two years later, in a highly controversial decision, he wasn't selected for the British team for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, thus denying him the chance to retain his 1500 metres title for a second time. The Daily Mirror ran a campaign entitled "Coe Must Go" in an attempt to change the British selectors' minds. The then President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, unsuccessfully tried to have the rules changed to ensure his inclusion under the Olympic flag. It was said that the Indian team were willing to allow him to compete for them on account of his mother's parentage, [cite web|url=|title=Coe's London legacy challenge|first=Mihir|last=Bose|authorlink=Mihir Bose||date=2008-08-20|accessdate=2008-08-20] although it was never likely that this would happen. Coe retired from competitive athletics in 1990.

One scene in the 1981 film "Chariots of Fire" recreates a race in which the runners attempt to round the perimeter of the Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge in the time it takes the clock to double strike the hour at midday or midnight. Many have tried to run the 367 metres (401 yards) around the court in the 43.6 seconds that it takes to strike 12 o'clock. Known as the Great Court Run, students traditionally attempt to complete the circuit on the evening of the Matriculation Dinner. The only person recognized to have actually completed the run in time is Lord Burghley in 1927. It was thought that Sebastian Coe had succeeded when he beat Steve Cram in a charity race in October 1988, in a time of 42.53 seconds. But a video of the race apparently shows Coe was 12 metres short of the finish line when the last chime sounded which is why Trinity College never officially accepted his time. Most recently 19 year old Trinity student Sam Dobin, whose time of 42.77 seconds in October 2007 beat Lord Burghley's time by 0.43 seconds. [ [] Daily Mail Modern-day hero runs away with Chariots of Fire challenge]

Later career

Infobox Politician
name=Sebastian Coe
constituency_MP =Falmouth and Camborne
term_start =9 April 1992
term_end = 2 May 1997
predecessor=David Mudd
successor= Candy Atherton
birth_date= birth date and age|1956|9|29|df=y
birth_place = Chiswick, London
nationality = British
party = Conservative
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater =
occupation =
profession = Athlete
religion =

website =
footnotes =
Coe became Member of Parliament for Falmouth and Camborne in 1992, for the Conservative Party, [ [ BBC SPORT | BBC TEAM | Sebastian Coe ] ] but lost his seat in the 1997 general election. He returned to politics for a short time as William Hague's 'chief of staff', having taken a life peerage in 2000. During this time he tried his hand at a marathon, running a time of 2 hours and 58 minutes.

When London announced its bid to hold the 2012 Olympics, Coe became an ambassador for the effort and a member of the board of the bid company. With the May 2004 resignation of chairman Barbara Cassani, Coe became the chairman for the latter phase of the bid. As Coe was a well-known personality in Olympic sport, it was felt he was better suited to the political schmoozing needed to secure the IOC's backing. Coe's presentation at the critical IOC meeting in July 2005 was viewed by commentators as being particularly effective, and the bid won the IOC's blessing on July 6. [ [ BBC SPORT | Other Sport... | Olympics 2012 | Profile: Lord Coe ] ]

It is widely felt that Coe could be a future President of the IOCFact|date=December 2007. With his established credentials in sport throughout the Olympic world, he is seen as a passionate person who would be suited to the role. He was considered a possible Conservative candidate for the 2008 London Mayoral election. It was considered he would also be a suitable candidate for the role of Chairman of UK Athletics, though he decided not to seek such a position.

In September 2008 Coe controversially told reporters "F**** 'Em" when asked about the opposition to the creation of a footballing Team GB from Scottish and Welsh supporters as reported in The London Paper, 30 September 2008, page 5 "Coe: Yes to 2012 GB footy team - The Scots and Welsh? F*** 'em".


Coe was appointed the first chairman of FIFA's new independent watchdog, FIFA's ethics commission. The commission will judge all cases alleging conflicts of interest and breaches of Fifa rules. [ [ BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | Fifa and Coe ] ]

FIFA president Sepp Blatter made the announcement in Zurich on 15 September 2006 and said: "It is perhaps a surprise but it has been very well received. We have found an outstanding personality in the world of sport, a great personality in the Olympic movement." His appointment makes him one of the most senior Englishmen to work for FIFA. [ [ Coe accepts new Fifa role as ethics watchdog - News & Comment, Football - ] ]

Personal life

His mother, Tina Angela Coe, died in Hammersmith and Fulham, London, in 2005, aged 75. His father, Peter Coe (born Percy N. Coe in Kingston-upon-Thames), died on 9 August 2008, aged 88, whilst Sebastian was in Beijing.

Coe married Nicky McIrvine, a former Badminton three-day-event champion, in Surrey, in 1990, with whom he has four children, two boys and two girls. The marriage ended in divorce in 2002 after twelve years and Coe moved out of the family home.

Lord and Lady Coe have four children, all of whom were born in Surrey:
* The Hon. Madeline Rose Coe (8 July 1992–)
* The Hon. Harry Sebastian Newbold Coe (29 September 1994–)
* The Hon. Peter Henry Christopher Coe (31 May 1996–)
* The Hon. Alice India Violet Coe (25 September 1998–)

He is a worldwide ambassador for Nike and owns a string of health clubs with a membership of 20,000. Coe is a knowledgeable follower of a wide range of sports, including football (he is a season ticket holder at Chelsea Football Club) and boxing (he was a steward for the British Boxing Board of Control), and has a very large collection of jazz records. He is a multimillionaire and a member of the East India Club, a private Gentlemen's Club in London. He has supported London athletic events like the London 10K of Nike and the British 10K charity race.


Coe was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1982 and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1990.

He was created a life peer in 2000 as Baron Coe, of Ranmore in the County of Surrey.

In December 2005, Coe was given a Special award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony. He was promoted to be a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2006 New Year's Honours List for services to sport. [ [ BBC SPORT | Other Sport... | Olympics 2012 | Profile: Lord Coe ] ]

Personal bests


* Coe was featured in the "Brass Eye" [] spoof documentary on paedophilia unwittingly accusing American blue-eyed soul singers Hall & Oates of not only being the same person but also of being child abusers.

* In "The Day Today", Chris Morris could be heard to shout indignantly at a woman invited into an interview, "I hate Sebastian Coe".

* As a student in Loughborough in the late 1970s Coe lived in Coe Avenue. He was also regularly spotted at the time in The 300 Spartans Chip Shop.

* American Olympic 1500m and 5000m athlete, Jim Spivey, is said to have named a son [] after Coe.

* In the 32nd episode of Family Guy, titled One If by Clam, Two If by Sea, the character Nigel Pinchley tells Lois that he once rang someone's bell and "ran like Sebastian Coe."

* Coe is a supporter of Chelsea F.C.

* Appeared as himself in the episode 'Not a Good Day' from the 4th series (season) of the British sitcom "The Brittas Empire"

tyles and honours

* Mr Sebastian Coe (1956–1982)
* Mr Sebastian Coe MBE (1982–1990)
* Mr Sebastian Coe OBE (1990–1992)
* Mr Sebastian Coe OBE MP (1992–1997)
* Mr Sebastian Coe OBE (1997–2000)
* The Rt. Hon. The Lord Coe OBE (2000–2006)
* The Rt. Hon. The Lord Coe KBE (2006–)

ee also

* Steve Ovett
* Steve Cram
* Olympic Games
* Middle distance track event


External links

* [ Sebastian Coe's foreward to 'Running the Race', biography of Olympic champion Eric Liddell] ISBN 9780852346655
* [ Sebastian Coe's entries on the official blog of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games]
* [ Sebastian Coe Profile: Made In Sheffield]
* [ Guardian profile of Sebastian Coe]
* [ Sebastian Coe has revamped London's bid for the 2012 Olympics]
* [ Sebastian Coe promises Olympics to remember]
* [ Sebastian Coe greatest race: the 2012 Olympics]
* [ Why London won the games: The Sebastian Coe factor]
* [ Coe Pays Tribute To Lord Stratford]
* [ Births England and Wales 1837-1983]
* [ Births, Marriages and Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006]

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