Coe, Sebastian (Part 1 of 4). An Oral History of British Athletics

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  • Subjects

    Athletics: Track

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Conservative Central Office, London

  • Interviewees

    Coe, Sebastian, 1956- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Cutler, Rachel (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Childhood/Family Queen Charlottes Hospital, Chiswick 29th September 1956. Moved to Midlands. 1968 - Moved to Sheffield. Lived there until University. First Club in Sheffield Haxxx Harriers. Tapton Comprehensive in Sheffield. Eldest child of four children, 2 sisters, 1 brother. Father engineer - ran cutlery company. Mother actress in rep' theatre - gave it up to have family, became administrator in Sheffield Art College. Stratford - earliest memories. Enjoyed school. Always part of sport scene, but never thought sport would be his career. Discusses professionalisation of athletics. More detail about date at which the sport became officially professional - trust funds. Compares American professionalism with British professionalism - 'professional circuit'. Argues that trust fund allowed Eastern bloc to separate from State. Discussion of 'fair' and 'unfair' competition. Eastern bloc competitors and resources in more detail. How his father became coach. Had been cyclist - therefore knew some aspects of Coaching and teaching sports/training, but little about track and field athletics. However, taught himself and 'Over five years turned himself into 'the leading middle distance coach of his generation.' Approached training as a scientific problem to be solved. Went against wisdom of the day. Relationship with father as coach. Father's training methods. Verbal attacks on father's methods. Believes father saved him from exhaustion and injury. National Coaching and teaching sports system. Discussion of how young talent is nurtured in Britain. His own early success. Cross country initially and won championships. Moved to track - to run middle distance. Fitting in running/training with education. Support of family, impact on brothers and sisters. Contact with British athletics officials - poor. The threat of father to athletics administration. When he first began to take running seriously. Good story about training weekend with other elite athletes. Maintaining commitment from childhood through to adult competition. Attitude to failing in competition. ' Probably the most important race of my whole career was the losing the European Championships in 1978 in Prague' Was winning but overtaken in last quarter of race. 'It's actually when you lose races, you probably learn more about yourself than when you win, and people make the fatal mistake of saying that only when you win you are successful' Changed the way he trained after that match - have to be selfish and honest about himself. 'Finishing second when you think you can win something is no compensation.

  • Description

    Interview with middle distance runner and Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) Lord Sebastian Coe

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