Two-time Olympic 1500m champion, Sebastian Coe, doesn’t really need an introduction. Coe set eight outdoor and three indoor world records during his career – including, in 1979, setting three world records in the space of just 41 days. Remarkably, his 800m world record of 1:41.73 set in 1981 stood unbroken until 1997.

Coe’s legendary rivalries with fellow Britons Steve Ovett and Steve Cram dominated middle-distance racing for much of the 1980s.

– Country: Great Britain
– Born: 29.09.1956

Personal Bests

– 400m: 46.87
– 800m: 1:41.73
– 1000m: 2:12.18
– 1500m: 3:29.77
– Mile: 3:47.33
– 2000m: 4:58.84

Career Highlights

2 x Olympic champion
2 x Olympic Games Silver medallist
1 x European champion
2 x European Championships Silver medallist
1 x European Championships Bronze medallist
1 x World (Continental) Cup winner
1 x European Indoor champion
1 x World (Continental) Cup Silver medallist
1 x In Top 8 at Commonwealth Games
1 x European Junior Championships Bronze medallist
2 x Current European Record holder – 1000m, 4x800m
11 x World Records in career

Here we take a look back over Coe’s career and rank his top-5 performances of all time.

Number 5: 1979 1500m World Record 3:32.1

August, 1979. Coe already held the 800 and Mile world records. Standing in his way of the triple was Filbert Bayi’s 5 year-old 1500m world record of 3:32.2.

By August 1979, Seb Coe was an international sports superstar. Millions of spectators from around the world expected nothing short of a new world 1500m record from Coe, especially considering that Coe and his Father had publicly stated that they were going after it.

“You got the 8, you got the mile, the 15 was the blank, let’s go for it” – Sebastian Coe

Number 4: 1981 Mile World Record 3:47.33

On the 19th August 1981 Sebastian Coe broke Steve Ovett’s Mile world record clocking 3:48.53 in Zurich. Then just a week later, on August 26th Steve Ovett stole the record back, stopping the clock in Koblenz, lowering the record to 3:48.40.

Two days later, never one to stray away from a challenge, Coe toed the line in Brussels on August 28th. Coe, with the help of a rabbit for the first 800m, outkicked the African record holder, Mike Boit, over the final 150m, clocking 3:47.33.

Number 3: 1981 800m World Record 1:41.73

Coe set numerous world records during his career, but only one of them stood until 1997. Many tried, but the record held until Kenya’s great Wilson Kipketer first equalled Coe’s mark in July 1997, then broke it on the 13th August 1997 clocking 1:41.24.

To this day (January 2017) only two athletes in history have bettered Coe’s mark – Kipketer and current world record holder, David Rudisha.

Number 2: 1984 Olympic 1500m Gold

Coe’s selection to UK’s Olympic team for the 1500m wasn’t a certainty leading into the games, and his selection was heavily criticised by the British media.
As Coe explained to the Telegraph in 2009:

“I thought I’d be selected for the 800m because I had run comfortably inside the qualifying times earlier in the season, but I was concerned that I might not get selected for the 1,500m because I had been beaten in the Olympic trials after having lost almost a year of training due to injury and illness”

Coe’s 1984 Olympic victory shows just how mentally tough he was. As Coe puts it:

“During 1984, I had a different set of challenges because I had been ill the previous year, but by the time of the Games I was mentally much more resilient than I was in 1980”.

Coe may have run faster countless times, but his ability to win Olympic gold whilst not being in peak physical shape, is a testament to his quality and why he is considered one of the greatest midde distance runners of all-time.

Number 1: 1980 Olympic 1500m Gold

“The man they wrote off totally, hardly anyone would pick him for this race” – Olympic Commentator

Coe’s first Olympic victory is hard to go past as his best race of all-time.

Coe was the overwhelming favourite to win the Olympic 800m title the week prior to the 1500m, but Coe had an off-day and was famously outkicked by his great rival, Steve Ovett. The media and public had pretty much written Coe off for the 1500m title but as the Olympic commentator put it:

“You don’t become a bad athlete in a week”

© 2017 Runner’s Tribe, all rights reserved- By Sam Burke