On the occasion of Sebastian Coe‘s birthday today, it would be most fitting to hold a little feature on maybe the greatest ever middle distance runner to grace the track in athletics history, still steering and influencing the fortunes of the sport in the country to a large extent from high-placed quarters nowadays.

Sebastian Newbold Coe, as is his full name, was born on 29 September 1956 in London and during his amazing running career he set no less than 11 individual world records, eight outdoors and three indoors, over distances from 800m through to the mile, as well as anchoring a 4x800m British outfit comprising also Steve Cram, Peter Elliott and Gary Cook to a twelfth global mark in a superb 1:44.03 leg in 1982. No other Briton has ever neared those dizzy numbers.

Every bit as magnificent, he also makes the most successful British Olympian in track and field as he has won two individual golds and two silvers, the only man to have won the 1500m title twice and on the trot at that. Come to that, his winning time of 3:32.53 ahead of then world champion Cram in Los Angeles in 1984 still stands as the fastest time ever recorded in an Olympia 27 years on. On top of that, Coe never failed to make the podium in every single event he has contested in major championships to provide a further measure of his athletic grandeur.

His one and only coach during his entire career was his late father Peter Coe, the man who changed the course of history in terms of middle distance training. Strangely enough, while the Africans, in particular the Moroccans, embraced his training principles and concepts to produce scores of classy runners over the last three decades, the Britons seem to have largely deserted his ideas.

Sebastian Coe still continues to claim races and win titles in other regions of athletics these days as the man who spearheaded London’s winning campaign over next year’s Olympic Games, as well as being one of the four vice presidents of IAAF.

Here are some of his greatest running moments:

Coe sets three world records in 41 days to soar to the very top of global athletics in 1979, named athlete of the year; he destroys Alberto Juantorena‘s 800m milestone by nearly a second in 1:42.33 in Oslo, becomes the first man to dip under 3:49 in a time of 3:48.95 over the mile and edges inside the 1500m world record in 3:32.03 in Zurich.

The ‘Clash of the Titans’ with Steve Ovett in Moscow Olympics in 1980. Astonishingly enough, he loses the race he couldn’t lose due to poor tactics, the 800m, but stages an amazing rally to end Ovett’s over three-year unbeaten run over 1500m later that week – his first Olympic crown. The following year, the two engage in a memorable battle over the claim to the mile world record, which shifts hands between them three times within a few weeks with Coe eventually on the winning end courtesy of an astonishing 3:47.33 in Brussels.

He was named athlete of the year for a second time in his career having also slashed another chunk off the 800m world record to an astonishing 1:41.73, which still remains third fastest time in history 30 years on, and well over a second off his own mark into a dazzling 2:12.18 over 1000m (1:44.56 through 800m), second fastest ever still.

Olympics 1984 in Los Angeles, Coe suffers defeat at the hands of great Brasilian Joakim Cruz in 1:43.74 to 1:43.00 in the 800m but again digs deep into his resources to come back and claim an unprecedented second Olympic title in the 1500m over world champion Steve Cram in style, setting an Olympic record of 3:32.53 in the process.

Coe is not the favourite this time round but Cram, on top of his own game, to win the European title in Stuttgart in 1986 but builds up fabulously round the top bend to storm past his great rival and rising Scot Tom McKean down the home straight to gold in 1:44.50.

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