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Sebastian Coe OBE

 With eight world records and two Olympic gold medals during his career, Sebastian Newbold Coe is one of the great names of British sport. Although he was born in Chiswick, London (on September 29 1956), Coe grew up in Sheffield and considers it his home.

Coe began his running career at the age of 12 when he joined Sheffield's Hallamshire Harriers. Between studies at Tapton and Abbeydale Grange Schools, the teenage Coe won county and schools championships at 3,000m, 1,500m and cross country.

In 1973 his father and coach Peter predicted that by 1980 his son would slice five seconds off the then 1500m world record. In fact Coe sensationally broke three world records, including the 1500m, in 1979 in just 41 days: the 800m and mile in Oslo and the 1500m in Zurich. This meant Coe was the first man in more than 50 years to set world records at both 800m and 1500m.

The following July Coe added the 1000m record to his list in Oslo, making him the holder, for a short time, of four world records simultaneously. For Coe, however, the Moscow Olympics and the media's long awaited showdown between Coe and his rival Steve Ovett, overshadowed 1980. The British pair dominated middle distance events at this time. Despite being predicted to win the 800m, Coe came second to Ovett, but bounced back to snatch gold in the 1500m, leaving Ovett trailing in third.

In 1981 Coe broke records again at 800m (Florence) 1000m (Oslo) and the mile (Zurich and Brussels) bringing his total to eight. His 800m world record of 1:41:73, set in Florence on June 10 1981, remained unbroken until 1997. At the 1984 Olympics Coe set an Olympic record at 1500m and took silver in the 800m. And at the European Championships in 1986, Coe won gold in the 800m and silver in the 1500m.

Since his last race in September 1989, Coe has pursued a political career, becoming Conservative MP for Falmouth and Camborne in 1992, a Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1994 and a government whip in 1996. In 1997 he was appointed Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, William Hague MP.

His sporting interests have continued, serving as Vice Chairman of the Sports Council (1986-89), steward of the British Boxing Board of Control (1994-98) and a member of the Sport for All Commission and International Olympic Committee.

Sebastian Coe was awarded the OBE in 1991. He lives in Surrey with his wife Nicola (Badminton three day event winner, 1990) and children Madeleine, Harry and Peter.

Photograph of Sebastian Coe reproduced with the subject's kind permission.

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