SPORTS

Seb Coe leading the way
Seb Coe leading the way

Now that the dust has settled on the World Athletics Championships in Bejing, it is time to evaluate a comment made by a fellow frozen northerner, Brendan Foster, who suggested that Mo Farah is the greatest British athlete of all time. With all due respect to Brendan. Mo is great but in my eyes he is not the greatest. That title belongs to Seb Coe. If you look at their medals tally in major sporting events then you cannot deny that Mo is way ahead, but you need to look beyond that and revisit that golden period of the late 70s and early 80s when Coe was at his majestic best. Breaking world records and winning Olympic gold medals but also fending off the challenge of Ovett and Cram at the same time. Coe made everything look easy with that graceful stride allowing him to glide around the track effortlessly. Nothing that Mo does is going to erase those epic races that Coe took part in. Seb appeared to break world records whenever he felt like it and was fuelled by his rivalry with Ovett who was trying to do the same. Those torturous 800 metre training sessions on Rivelin valley road which were organized and planned by his father, Peter, enabled Seb to reach a level of performance beyond his or his father’s wildest dreams. His achievement in becoming the first man to win consecutive 1500 metre Olympic gold medals could be regarded as his greatest success, one could argue that it takes some beating, but for me that summer of 1981 will never be bettered and it gave us a watershed moment in athletics with the golden mile at the Hysel Stadium in Brussels. The world record was about to be broken for the third time in 10 days and in front of 50,000 people. Coe duly obliged with a performance of the highest magnitude, going through the first lap in 54.42 seconds, Coe produced a mesmerizing performance to win in 3 minutes 47.33 seconds. I have never seen anything like it and with Coleman going berserk in the commentary box you knew you had just witnessed something special. Mo is great but there is only one Seb Coe.