Steve Ovett and Seb Coe – The Record Breaking Rivalry

The Perfect Distance: Ovett and Coe - The Record Breaking Rivalry

"5" />This new book carries the Book Description fully authorised, inside story

of Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coes intense rivalry on the track, which climaxed

at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe presided over the golden era of British

athletics. Between them they won three Olympic gold medals, two silvers, one

bronze, and broke a total of twelve middle-distance records. They were part of

the landscape of the late seventies and early eighties -- both household names,

their exploits were watched by millions (in an age before video, satellite and

Sky Sports, the BBC Nine OClock News was often interrupted to accommodate their


As far apart as possible in terms of class and upbringing -- Ovett is the

art student, the long-haired son of a market-trader from Brighton, a natural

athlete; Coes formative years were spent under the rigorous training routine of

Peter Coe, a self-taught trainer who referred to his son as my athlete -- their

rivalry burned as intense on the track as away from it. The pendulum swung

between the pair of them -- each breaking the others records, and, memorably,

triumphing in each others events in Moscow in 1980 -- for the best part of a

decade, until the final showdown at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 ...

Twenty years on, Pat Butcher, a runner himself and athletics correspondent

of The Times in the eighties, has spoken at length to both athletes; to Coe,

the Tory MP, and to Ovett, whom he tracked down in Australia. He writes in

depth about the British obsession with and dominance of middle-distance

running, the mile, and speaks to many of the great milers down the years, the

likes of the Swedes Gunder Hagg and Arne Andersson, John Walker and, of course,

Roger Bannister. The Perfect Distance is both a detailed re-creation and a

fitting celebration of the greatest era of British athletics.

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