Inside Lines: Why Lord Coe's latest run could be for mayor of London


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The Independent Online

Will Seb Coe's close friendship with David Cameron entice him to change his mind about a return to the political arena and run for mayor of London if Boris Johnson, as is widely supposed, stands for Parliament at the next election to further his own leadership ambitions?

There is no doubt the prime minister would snatch Lord Coe's hand off, knowing his candidacy would virtually ensure the City Hall post remaining in Tory hands, such is His Lordship's public esteem in the wake of a euphoric Olympics.

Coe has always maintained that his five years as MP for Falmouth were far from the happiest of his life, but the mayoralty would be different. Although he has said he would never return to non-sporting politics, there is a possible scenario which could bring about a U-turn in 2015.

This is a critical year for Coe, currently chair of the British Olympic Association, who is set to bid for the presidency of world athletics (the International Association of Athletics Federations), a post which would automatically guarantee him membership of the International Olympic Committee, which he is reasonably predicted to head one day.

However, it is strongly rumoured that the present IAAF overlord, the octogenarian Senegalese judge Lamine Diack, may now opt not to retire, a situation that would leave Coe's sporting political aspirations in limbo. Especially as his chief rival, Ukraine's former pole-vault star Sergey Bubka, already an IOC member, has now thrown his hat into the Olympic rings as one of six candidates vying to take over from Jacques Rogge as IOC president in September.

Coe's new role with the BOA is unpaid, but he stands to make around £12 million from the sale of his leisure-management consultancy firm to Chime Communications. Some who attended the recent Tory party spring lunch in London say the tone of a speech he made there suggested his appetite may have been whetted for a comeback to the political rat-race. If this is the case, the Boris baton is ready and waiting.

Luke and learn

You might say Britain's personable Olympic bantamweight gold medallist, Luke Campbell, will make a model pro – he's on the books of a top agency and has done a photo-shoot for Vogue.

He is also something of a role model for youngsters as ambassador for StreetGames, a praiseworthy project which engages thousands of youngsters in what is termed "doorstep sport", including adapting traditional upmarket pastimes such as tennis, cricket and hockey for community use in disadvantaged areas nationwide. Something Sport England, who have invested £3m into the scheme, hope will help turn around figures which show that fewer kids from deprived inner-city areas play sport than others.

"Hopefully these kids will see that I'm just like them, someone from a less well-off area who worked hard to achieve a goal," Hull-born Campbell told us at last week's launch in Stratford. "It goes to show that you don't have to be from a posh area to be good at sport."

The 25-year-old, last seen in Dancing on Ice, and who makes his pro debut in his home town on 13 July, says he is still seeking a trainer. As skating mentor Jayne Torvill will be at ringside, he can always call her up into the corner should things get slippery.

Playing for the shirt

Would you put your shirt on Andy Murray to win Wimbledon? One punter can actually put Murray's own shirt on the possibility after shelling out £15,000 for the one he wore when winning the US Open last year.

Signed by Murray, it fetched twice what London auctioneers Bonhams had anticipated, proceeds going to the Princes Trust charity. Had fight fan Murray been there himself he might well have bid for a piece of fistic history, the original Lonsdale Belt won in 1916 by the appropriately named Johnny Basham, the Welsh welterweight who uniquely faced a manslaughter charge after an opponent died in the ring. He was subsequently acquitted. The belt was valued at £35,000, but unusually there were absolutely no takers.