Sebastian Coe: You Ask The Questions

Who are the greatest Olympians of them all? And do you feel ashamed of the way you treated Steve Ovett after he beat you in Moscow?
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The Independent Online

Sebastian Coe, 47, was born in London. In the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, he won a gold medal in the 1500m and a silver for the 800m, losing to his team mate Steve Ovett. He achieved the same medals for the same distances again in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Between 1992 and 1997, he was a Conservative Member of Parliament, before becoming Private Secretary to William Hague, then leader of the Opposition. In 2000, he became a life peer. He is currently chairman of the London bid for the 2012 Olympics. He has four children and is separated from his wife.

Sebastian Coe, 47, was born in London. In the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, he won a gold medal in the 1500m and a silver for the 800m, losing to his team mate Steve Ovett. He achieved the same medals for the same distances again in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Between 1992 and 1997, he was a Conservative Member of Parliament, before becoming Private Secretary to William Hague, then leader of the Opposition. In 2000, he became a life peer. He is currently chairman of the London bid for the 2012 Olympics. He has four children and is separated from his wife.

Will anyone run a three-minute mile?
Richard Andrews, Milton Keynes

Not unless they are in free fall in a mine shaft.

Who are the greatest Olympians of them all?
Iain Stewart, Edinburgh

Jesse Owens, whose supreme performance overcame high politics and bigotry. Michael Johnson; his 200m in Atlanta was one of the great moments I have ever witnessed in sport. Daley Thompson; on his second day in the Los Angeles decathlon, he had to throw a personal best in the discus to remain in the competition. He threw six feet further than he had thrown before or since. And Yasuhiro Yamashita, who won his Olympic Gold in 1984 in the Men's Open Weight Judo with badly damaged knee ligaments - an unthinkable handicap in that sport.

When you were competing, were you ever offered performance-enhancing drugs?
Jim Sanderson, London

Absolutely not.

Do you feel ashamed of the way you were unable to look Steve Ovett in the eye when he had beaten you in the 800m at Moscow, particularly since he was so gracious when you then defeated him in the 1500m?
John Macdonald, by e-mail

This is down to a perception based on a two-second clip of film. Steve is one of the best athletes of the 20th century and it was an honour to race against him. We are, contrary to popular belief, good friends and are in touch regularly. I saw him recently when I was in Australia.

Do you still do judo with William Hague? If not, how do you unwind after a hard day's work?
Kiran Raja, by e-mail

I only did judo with William a few times. I'm not quite sure where the judo story came from - it's another media myth. I can think of many ways to unwind: read a good book; go and listen to some fantastic jazz in the 606 Club; watch a game of cricket... But best of all, I love to hang out with my kids.

Did you abstain from sex before a race?
Olivia Cannon, Malborough

Only during.

How can we be sure that voting for London 2012 hasn't been/ isn't corrupted in light of BBC's recent Panorama programme?
Jack Cunningham, Oxford

London's bid is being conducted in an ethical and proper manner and within the bidding rules set out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The programme's undercover operation had absolutely no connection to the London bid. Its wider allegations have already been referred to the IOC's ethics commission and these matters will be dealt with by the IOC in due course.

Seb, we're not going to win anything in Athens. We need you! Have you ever thought of a comeback?
Tina Milroy, by e-mail

Who says we are not going to win anything in Athens? I think Team GB has some very talented and inspirational athletes. And no, I have no plans for a comeback. At the age of 47, I think my competitive running days are over. Who's kidding who?

Be honest: what are the odds that London will get the Olympics?
Simon Jones, Rhyl

London has a very good chance of winning. Our plans are a great mix of old and new, of brand new venues in the Olympic Park, of existing world-class sporting venues such as Lord's that would be used for archery, Wimbledon for tennis, and the new Wembley for the football finals. And our iconic London venues will also have a role: Greenwich Park for equestrianism; Regent's Park for baseball and softball; Hyde Park for the triathlon; and Horse Guard's Parade for beach volleyball. It is a great mix.

Who would sing in the opening ceremony of your dream Olympic Games? And who would be presenting your gold medal?
Bob Anthony, Madrid

Easy: Billie Holiday would sing and Leicester Young would present my medal.

Where do you keep your medals? And under what circumstances would you melt them down and sell them on?
Jessica Reeve, Chester

My nieces and nephews are looking after my medals at the moment. As for melting them down, they've probably done that already.

Why did Barbara Cassani quit?
Marc Harmon, Dundee

Barbara has not quit. She took the decision to stand down as chairman for the second phase of the campaign, and that we should swaps positions because of my knowledge of the international sporting community. Barbara did a great job setting up the company and getting us through to the official candidate city stage. She is still fully involved in the bid as one of three vice chairmen.

Which is the hardest Olympic event?
Barbara Murphy, Dublin

The 800m, of course.

Do you still jog? If so, how far do you go, and how often?
Lee Levitt, by e-mail

I try to run as often as I can, perhaps four or five times a week. I run for as long as the mood takes me, but don't have a set course or length of time. That's the joy of running; I just make my mind up on the day.

Britain isn't the most popular nation at the moment. Is there a danger that the Iraq War will sway the voting in Paris's favour?
Charlotte Spencer, by e-mail

I don't think the Iraq War will make a difference to the vote next July. I was elected on to the Council of the International Association of Athletic Federations during the war last year. People voted for me from around the world. People can separate sport from politics. The IOC will take lots of different factors into account when it makes its final decision in Singapore next July.

What did you shout at the watching journalists after winning the 1500m gold in Los Angeles?
Des Smith, Birmingham

I can't even begin to repeat it!

What would your response be to people who say Olympic sport is now so corrupt they no longer enjoy watching it?
Sandra Parkin, Bournemouth

They are wrong and their attitude is a huge insult to the vast majority of the competitors, officials and spectators who are not corrupt and who believe in the Olympic values.

What would mean more to you: an Olympic gold or winning the Olympic bid for London?
Pete Rutherford, Oxford

To bring the Olympics to London in 2012 would be much bigger than anything I have achieved before. Winning an Olympic gold is an incredible experience and impacts upon you, your family and friends, and, for a short time, your chosen sport. But, winning the Games will impact on the whole nation for years to come. It would be monumental, stratospheric.

Registering your support for the London bid will help to make it successful. Log on to www.london2012.com

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