Friday, August 22, 2008

Trip Down Memory Lane II - Coe and Ovett

As a child of the late 70's and a teen of the 80's I was fortunate to witness the running rivalry of Britain's Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. Together with countryman Steve Cram (who was still more of the other guy) the three dominated middle distance running during this time period. Coe (now Lord Coe) was the greatest of the three rivals. Here is a list of his achievements:

1979 - Coe sets world record in 800m, 1 mile and 1,500m. He holds all three records simultaneously.
1980 - Wins 1500m at Moscow Olympics and is runner up to Ovett at 800m. Each won each other's speciality at this Olympics.
1980 - Breaks World Record in 1,000m.
1981 - Betters time on 1,000m. New Record will stand for 18 years. Breaks record for the mile twice. Sets time of 1 minute 41.73 seconds for the 800m. This record will stand until 1997 (it was broken by Danish/Kenyan Wilson Kipketer) but still remains as of today as the second fastest time in the history of the 800m.
1982 - Is part of relay team that sets the world record in the 4 x 800m. The record will stand for 24 years.
1984 - Wins silver in the 800m (behind Joaquim Cruz of Brazil) and takes gold in the 1500m at the Los Angeles Olympics.
1986 - Wins 800m at European Championships. Is voted best athlete for the fourth time in his career.

To see Coe's amazing 800m world record run go to

Ovett's achievements should not be scoffed at either.

1976 - Finishes fifth at the Montreal Olympics in the 800m behind legendary Cuban runner,
Alberto 'the horse' Juantorena (who won both the 400m and the 800m that year)
1977 - Wins gold at the IAAF World Championships in the 1500m defeating the favourite New Zealand's, John Walker.
1978 - Takes 1500m Gold at the European Championship. Sets World Record in the 2-mile.
1980 - Wins Gold in Moscow in the 800m but only finishes third in the 1500m. Breaks mile world record and equals Coe's time at 1500m. Breaks world record in 1500,
1981 - Exchanges world records with Coe in the mile - three times in 10 days.

Here is some footage of Cram vs Ovett in their inspiring duel at Crystal Palace in 1983.
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