Steve Ovett

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameStephen Michael James "Steve"•Ovett
Used nameSteve•Ovett
Born9 October 1955 in Brighton, England (GBR)
Measurements183 cm / 70 kg
AffiliationsBrighton & Hove AC, Steyning (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 2


After winning the 1973 European Junior 800 metres title when he was only 17-years-old, Steve Ovett was in the forefront of world middle-distance running for more than a decade. He took part in three Olympic Games (1976-84) and although he won the Olympic 800 metres title in 1980, he was probably at his best over the 1,500 metres/mile distance. In 1980, after setting two world records at 1,500 metres and bettering Seb Coe’s world mile record, Ovett was a firm favorite for the Olympic 1,500 metres title but his run of 45 successive victories over the distance, which stretched back to May 1977, was broken when he finished third in Moscow. In 1981, he bettered the world mile record for a second time and 1983 saw him achieve his third world record at 1,500 metres. Between 1977 and 1983 he set 12 UK records at distances ranging from 800 to 2,000 metres.

Apart from his record breaking feats, Steve Ovett was a brilliant competitor and built an outstanding record in major championships. At 800 metres he won the European Junior title in 1973, the European Cup in 1975 and the Olympic gold medal in 1980. Over 1,500 metres Ovett won at the European Cup in 1977, the World Cup in 1977 and 1981, and the European Championship in 1978. Proof of his amazing versatility at the very highest level came when he won the 5,000 metres at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.

He was always able to produce a devastating finishing burst off a fast pace, and this talent made him one of the finest middle-distance runners in the history of the sport. When Ovett and Seb Coe were at their peak, no other country could match Britain’s strength in the middle-distance events, and both athletes rendered a great service to British sport.

Apart from his defeat in the 1980 Olympic 1,500 metre final, Ovett suffered a major disappointment at the 1984 Olympics when, because of bronchial problems, he was not at his best and after finishing last in the 800 metres final he was forced to drop out of the 1,500 metres final. After failing to qualify for the 1990 Commonwealth Games team, he gradually dropped out of the big-time athletics and spent more time developing his career as a television commentator. He has worked for Canadian network CBC as part of their commentary team since 1992.

Ovett relocated to Australia during the 90’s and his son Freddie has represented his adopted country over 800 m at junior level.

Personal Bests: 400 – 47.5 (1974); 800 – 1:44.09 (1978); 1000 – 2:16.0 (1979); 1500 – 3:30.77 (1983); Mile – 3:48.40 (1980); 2000 – 4:57.71 (1982); 3000 – 7:41.3 (1977); 2 miles – 8:13.51 (1978); 5000 – 13:20.06 (1986).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1976 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Steve Ovett
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 5
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 6 h1 r2/3
1980 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Steve Ovett
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
1984 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Steve Ovett
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 8
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) AC r3/3

Olympic family relations

Special Notes