Seb Coe

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other • Administrator
Full nameSebastian Newbold "Seb"•Coe
Used nameSeb•Coe
Born29 September 1956 in Chiswick, England (GBR)
Measurements175 cm / 54 kg
AffiliationsHallamshire Harriers, Sheffield (GBR) / Haringey AC, London (GBR)
Title(s)Baron Coe of Ranmore
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 2
Bronze 0
Total 4


Although the brilliant career of Seb Coe included a number of disappointments, the highlights were such that he must be considered as one of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time. After winning the British 1,500 metres title at both Youth and Junior level, his first major international championship success came when he won the 1977 European indoor 800 metres title at Dortmund with a new British indoor record of 1:47.6 seconds. Within the next month he had twice improved the record and later in the year headed the British outdoor record, clocking 1:44.95 at Crystal Palace in September. In 1978, Coe brought the British 800 metres record down to 1:44.25 seconds in August before making a further improvement the following month with a run of 1:43.97.

Although this fine performance ranked no higher than eighth on the world all-time list, the breaking of the 1:44 barrier placed Coe early among the world’s elite and he was to confirm his place in spectacular fashion the following year. Within the space of 42 days in July and August 1979, he posted new world records for the 800 metres, 1,500 metres and 1 mile. In 1980 he took over as the world record holder at 1,000 metres and in 1981 he improved his own world records at 800 metres and 1,000 metres before twice improving his own record for the mile. His only world record in 1982 came when he contributed a 1:44.01 second leg on Britain’s 4×800 metre relay team; the following year he posted world indoor records at 800 metres and 1,000 metres. In all, Seb Coe set nine world records outdoors and three indoors, and this alone would have been more than enough to ensure his place as one of the legends in the sport.

But in addition to his phenomenal talents as a record breaker, Coe was also a superlative performer in major championship events. He is the only man in modern times to have won the Olympic 1,500 metres title twice and his victory in 1980 when he came back from losing the 800 metres, for which he was an overwhelming favorite, was testament to his moral fortitude. In addition to all his Olympic gold medals at 1,500 metres in 1980 and 1984, he finished second in the 800 metres at both of these Games. He also won over 800 metres at the European and World Cup in 1981 and the European Championships in 1986.

Coe missed selection for his third Olympic Games after an inexplicably poor run in the trials and finished a disappointment sixth in the last major race, the 1,500 metres at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. But these were no more than minor blemishes on a superb career. Some ten years later, his world records for 800 metres and 1,000 metres still stood and for these to have survived throughout the greatest decade of mid-distance running that the world has ever seen was a clear indication of the calibre of Coe’s performances.

After retiring from top-class competition, Seb Coe entered politics and served as the Member of Parliament for Falmouth and Camborne, as a member of the Conservative party between 1992 and 1997. He was awarded the MBE in 1982, the OBE in 1990 and then in 2000 he was elevated to the peerage with the title Baron Coe of Ranmore. He has married twice, firstly to three day event rider Nicola McIrvine and then in 2011 to Carol, daughter of former England cricket captain Mike Smith.

In 2004 Coe took over as Chairman of the London bid for the 2012 Olympics and was widely credited for the success of the bid. As well as being the chairman of the 2012 Olympic Games organising committee he is also a vice-president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation and has been both head of FIFA’s ethics committee and a steward of the British Boxing Board of Control.

Coe was elected to replace Lamine Diack as head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2015.

Personal Bests: 400 – 46.87 (1979); 800 – 1:41.73 (1981); 1000 – 2:12.18 (1981); 1500 – 3:29.77 (1986); Mile – 3:47.33 (1981); 2000 – 4:58.84 (1982); 3000 – 7:54.32 (1979); 5000 – 14:06.2 (1980).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1980 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Seb Coe
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1984 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Seb Coe
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Organization roles

Role Organization Tenure NOC As
Chairman London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2005— GBR Seb Coe
Chairman British Olympic Association 2012—2016 GBR Seb Coe
President World Athletics 2015— GBR Seb Coe
WA International Olympic Committee 2020— GBR Seb Coe

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1984 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony GBR Seb Coe

Special Notes