• Why is Sebastian Coe famous?

    Who is Seb Coe?
    Sebastian ('Seb') Coe won Olympic gold medals as a runner. Later he played a big part in bringing the 2012 Olympic Games to London. Coe became famous as an athlete. He was one of the great runners of all time.

    What kind of runner was he?
    Coe was a very fast runner. He was best over 'middle distances': 400 metres, 800 metres and 1500 metres. He won four Olympic medals. He set 12 world records - a world record is when someone does something better than anyone else before.

    What did he do after running?
    After success as a runner in two Olympic Games, Coe became an MP. He later led the campaign to bring the 2012 Olympic Games to Britain.

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  • Early life

    The Coe family
    Sebastian Newbold Coe was born in London on 29 September 1956. He was the oldest of four children, two boys and two girls.

    His father Peter was an engineer. His mother Angela was an actress. She was brought up in India. Seb's grandfather was Indian.

    Father's war
    His father Peter was a sailor during World War II.

    Peter Coe's ship was sunk by a torpedo. Peter was rescued from the sea by a German ship. On the way to a prison camp, he escaped. He managed to get back to Britain. Seb Coe learned a lot from his father. Peter Coe never forgot his lucky escape.

    Always running
    Seb grew up in the city of Sheffield in Yorkshire. He loved to run. He later said 'I never walked anywhere'. He began running in races at age 12.

    Peter Coe saw that his son was going to be a star athlete.

    Father and son
    Peter Coe had never trained a runner. He read books about athletics. He and Seb worked hard to make Seb stronger and faster.

    Seb used to run up hills. Seb's dad waited at the top. He gave him a ride down, so Seb did not hurt his legs running downhill.

    A rival
    In 1972, Seb first met another fast runner. The boy's name was Steve Ovett. Soon, Coe and Ovett became rivals on the running track.

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  • Breaking records

    In 1973, Seb won the English Schools 3000-metres championship. He was also schools cross-country champion.

    When he left school, Coe went to Loughborough University. Now a star runner, he was about to get even better.

    World records
    In 1979, Seb Coe set three world records in 41 days! He ran 800 metres, 1 mile, and 1500 metres faster than anyone before.

    He set 12 world records altogether. He broke some records several times. His fastest time for 800 metres, in 1981, was not beaten by another runner until 1997.

    The 1980 Olympic Games
    Seb Coe and Steve Ovett ran for Britain in the 1980 Olympic Games. The Games took place in Moscow (Russia). Most people expected Coe to be best in the 800 metres. But Ovett won. Coe came second.

    Then came the 1500 metres race. This time Ovett was the favourite. But Coe won the gold medal.

    The 1984 Olympic Games
    The 1984 Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles (USA).

    Coe won the 1500 metres. No man had ever won the 1500m race at two Olympic Games, one after the other. Britain's Steve Cram came second.

    Coe won a silver medal in the 800 metres race.

    Last big win
    Coe's last big win was in 1986. He won the 800 metres in the European Championships. It was his only gold medal at 800 metres, supposed to be his 'best' race.

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  • After athletics

    No more running?
    Seb Coe did not run in the 1988 Olympic Games because of illness. He retired from athletics in 1990.

    In 1992, Seb Coe was elected to Parliament. He was an MP until 1997. He worked in politics for a time after that.

    World Sport
    Coe helped to run international sport. From 2004 he led the team behind the bid to bring the Olympic Games to Britain. In 2005, the Games were awarded to London.

    Everyone in the bid team worked hard to make sure that everything was ready for 2012.

    Coe also spoke out against drugs in sport. Drugs can help people get stronger or run faster. This is wrong, and unfair in sport.

    Heroes of the track
    Seb Coe received many awards. In 2000, he was made Lord Coe. In 2006, he received a knighthood.

    Coe is one of the all-time heroes of British athletics. Here are some more:

    Roger Bannister - the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes (1954)
    Steve Ovett - won an Olympic gold medal in 1980
    Daley Thompson - won two Olympic gold medals (1980,1984)
    Sally Gunnell - won an Olympic gold in 1992
    Linford Christie - won an Olympic gold in 1992
    Kelly Holmes - won two Olympic golds in 2004
    Christine Uhuruogu - won an Olympic gold medal in 2008

    Sport for all
    People all over the world enjoy sport. 'Sport is a universal language' said Seb Coe. Not everyone can run like Seb Coe. But everyone can enjoy taking part. It doesn't matter what sport, or how good you are!

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  • The Olympic Games

    When did the Olympics begin?
    The Ancient Greeks started the Olympic Games in 776 BC. The games were held every four years until AD 393.

    The Greeks had running races, jumping and throwing. Their Games included wrestling, boxing, horse racing, chariot races, and music and poetry too.

    The modern Games
    The modern Olympic Games began in 1896, in Athens (Greece). They have been held every four years since, except during World War I and World War II.

    The Olympic Games were first held in Britain in 1908. In 1948, the Olympic Games were held in London again.

    What are the Paralympics?
    The first 'wheelchair Games' were in 1948. Soldiers hurt in World War II took part. Today the Paralympic Games for disabled athletes are part of the Olympics.

    When did the Winter Games start?
    The first Winter Olympics were in 1924. The Winter Games are for 'winter sports', such as skiing, ice skating, snowboarding and ice hockey.

    The Games today
    The Olympic Games have got bigger and bigger. Athletes from more than 200 countries take part, and there are lots of sports.

    As well as athletics, the Games include swimming, sailing, horse riding, cycling, football, tennis, hockey, rowing, gymnastics and basketball. There are lots more too, to find out about!

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Sebastian Coe Game

Sebastian Coe

Take part in an 1800m race and learn about the Olympic Games.

Fun Facts
  • London is the first city to stage the Olympic Games three times. Britain has never hosted the Winter Olympics though.

  • Ancient Greek Olympic athletes were all men, and they wore no clothes.

  • 12 million people watching TV in Britain saw Coe win his gold medal in 1980.

  • In the 1908 Olympic 400 metres race, 3 of the 4 runners pulled out before the start. One runner ran round on his own!

  • The Olympic flame is lit in Greece before every Games. A burning torch is carried by runners to the host country.

Other famous sports people

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A to D

A place where people watch sports or concerts.
A sportsperson; in particular someone who does athletics (running, jumping, throwing).
When someone says they would like to buy something or arrange something.
an ancient two-wheeled cart pulled by horses
A race across fields, not on a running track or road.

E to G

gold medal
Prize for coming first at the Olympic Games.

H to L

This is when someone is made a knight, and is then called Sir instead of Mr.

M to O

Member of Parliament, a person elected to make our laws.
Olympic Games
International sports festival, held every four years.

P to S

Paralympic Games
The Olympics for disabled athletes.
The business of governing a country.
silver medal
Prize for coming second at the Olympic Games.

T to Z

This is an underwater bomb, with a motor, fired from a submarine.
Shown how to do something better, such as run faster.
World War I
War 1914-18 fought mainly in Europe and the Middle East.
World War II
War 1939-45, fought in Europe, Africa and the Pacific.