Sebastian Coe: What I’ve Learned
I hated losing; I retired when I knew I couldn’t run any faster.
From Esquire UK magazine
The one discussion that’s never been resolved in sports science is what is a stitch? You can speak to any number of physicians who won’t really give you a straight answer to that. All you know is when you get one it’s bloody painful.
I’ve never bet on myself. My father did on one occasion. That was the 1984 Olympic Games. On the morning of the 1500 meters, he got me at about 11 to one. He did alright out of that.
When I moved to Sheffield and went to a secondary modern in the Seventies there were certain challenges; if you’ve got a name like Sebastian you either learn to fight or to run. That was quite a tough school. There was corporal punishment. One teacher had a car aerial, which used to sting on the hand. The plimsoll was painful, too. I can’t say that it did me any sort of lasting mental damage, but I think you have to assume that it is better never to resolve issues by violence.
I was the Conservative MP for Falmouth and Camborne from 1992 to 1997, when the people spoke in a very big way. I spent two years as a candidate. Bizarre photo opportunities? There’s no threshold for embarrassment. Standing looking interested at sewage outfalls and things like that. Eating Cornish pasties...
I’m such an odd mix of things. My grandfather was Indian: I’ve got more family living in India than I do in the UK. My old man was east London. I was brought up in Yorkshire. My great-grandfather was Irish. I’ve just tended never to see the world through the wrong end of a telescope down the M25. I suppose I’ve absorbed stuff from all over the place and I don’t see myself as belonging to anywhere in particular.
People say, “You and Steve Ovett didn’t get on”. We didn’t know each other at all until ’84, towards the end of our careers. I found that we had remarkably similar senses of humour. He lives in Australia now.
If in doubt, don’t.
I can be a bit impatient sometimes. If I’m really focussing on something I can expect everybody to move at the same pace and that’s probably not massively endearing.
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