Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

SEBASTIAN COE VS STEVE OVETT

hero carl lewis.jpg

Individually, Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett were titans of middle-distance running. Together, they were one of the best advertisements athletics has ever had.

It was in 1978 when Coe started breaking all sorts of records. Ovett was barely a year older and had been dominating the sport a year previously. Coe was better at the 800m while Ovett specialised in the 1,500m. They were so focused on these respective events that they were instant favourites in each. So when they faced each other at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, their first Games, people assumed a predictable outcome.

Off the track, Coe signed more autographs and was always smiling that bit more. They were different on the track, too. Ovett was a more aggressive runner who used all of his body — the sort of guy you didn’t want to run into the home stretch next to, because you’d end up either finishing second or in the in-field — while Coe was smaller and ran from the front a lot to gain control.

Ovett was well behind midway through the 800m final with Coe leading, but he forced his way into contention and hit another gear going into the final lap to take the gold with Coe behind him. No one expected it — especially Coe, who no doubt went to bed saying a few choice words to himself.

The 1,500m final wasn’t for a few days, which gave Coe time to stew, and it made him all the more determined to do the unthinkable: beat his rival and win the 1,500m — an event that Ovett hadn’t lost in for more than two years.

When it came to the race, Ovett kept behind Coe but never upped the gears. He slipped to third and Coe took gold [above]. Coe was always about breaking records, but racing Ovett made him want gold even more. It was amazing and one of the most underrated stories in the sport’s history.

It shows that rivalries can push you further. I had travelled to those games with the US team, and although I was a sprinter and a few years younger than Coe, he and I were friends. He taught me to keep trying hard, never get down and keep fighting back.

Apply for London 2012 tickets at Tickets.london2012.com until 26 April

Related

Macca-getty.jpg

Liverpool V Man U

hero_odowd.jpg

Ireland vs England

tsres.png

The Greatest Sport You'll Never Play

Comments

More

San Diego could vote to name its new soccer team 'Footy McFooty Face'

Stop this. Please, just stop it

by Tom Mendelsohn
28 Mar 2017

'Game of Thrones' fans will definitely enjoy this IKEA toilet display

Not sure that the 'Porcelain Throne' has quite the same ring to it, though

by Matt Tate
28 Mar 2017

The new 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' trailer looks pretty decent

There's a lot of Downey Jr.

by Tom Mendelsohn
28 Mar 2017

An amazing extended version of George Michael's 'Fastlove' exists

I won't bore you with the details, baby

by Dave Fawbert
28 Mar 2017

The 'Fresh Prince' cast all hung out yesterday, but still no reboot

The main cast of the popular sitcom - minus the sadly deceased James Avery - have resurfaced on Alfonso Ribeiro's Instagram

by Tom Mendelsohn
28 Mar 2017

Ray Parlour's story of how Arsenal signed Igors Stepanovs is amazing

It was basically a prank on Martin Keown gone hugely wrong

by Dave Fawbert
28 Mar 2017

A woman has been jailed for playing Ed Sheeran on repeat

Fair enough?

by Gary Ogden
28 Mar 2017

'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins is making a TV series for Amazon

It's an adaptation of award-winning novel 'The Underground Railroad'

by Tom Mendelsohn
28 Mar 2017

Bryan Cranston visits 'Better Call Saul' set in new video

The gang got back together for a short video

by Matt Tate
28 Mar 2017

Gary Barlow has revealed he'll be in the next Star Wars movie

Take that, Vader! Or something

by Gary Ogden
27 Mar 2017