Olympic Rivalries: Sebastian Coe & Steve Ovett

Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe were middle-distance runners who presided over the golden era of British athletics. Between them they broke a total of twelve middle-distance records, won three Olympic gold medals, two silvers, and one bronze. In the late seventies and early eighties their great sporting rivalry was watched by millions, and they both became household names.

They were complete opposites in terms of class and upbringing. Ovett was a long-haired art student and son of a market-trader from Brighton; a natural athlete. Coe's formative years were spent under the rigorous training routine of his father Peter Coe, an engineer and self-taught trainer. Their rivalry off the track was as interesting as their rivalry on it. The fickle spotlight of victory vacillated between them - each broke the other's records, and each triumphed in the other's events in Moscow in 1980. This pattern endured for the best part of a decade until the final showdown at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

Pat Butcher is a writer, journalist, television producer and commentator, who has written a book about Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe, The Perfect Distance: Ovett and Coe: The Record Breaking Rivalry.

In this recorded event, Pat butcher discusses the famous rivalry between Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe, drawing on examples from some of their most memorable races.

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Globe Runner - Pat Butcher

Posted on Sun 8 July 2012.