Coe plans to return home for father's funeral

Sebastian Coe, who learnt when he arrived here on Saturday that his father, Peter, had died after a short illness, will go back home for the funeral before returning to China for the closing ceremony.

Lord Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 Olympic organising committee, had delayed his journey to Beijing to be at his father's bedside in a London hospital. The double Olympic 1500m champion said last month that his father, who coached him, had had "an extraordinary influence" on his life.

The most memorable example of that influence occurred in the wake of Coe's silver behind his huge rival Steve Ovett in the 1980 Moscow Olympic final, where he was hot favourite. "You ran like an idiot," his father told him. Coe went out and earned unexpected gold in Ovett's event of the metric mile.

Coe Snr, who was 88 when he died, was an engineer by profession, having survived when his merchant navy ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic during the Second World War. But as a novice coach, he recognised the prevailing methods of preparing for middle distance running were outmoded and set up a programme for his son focusing on repetitious speed work rather than lots of long, slower runs.

From the moment Coe emerged on the international scene as a 20-year-old in 1977 to win the European indoor 800m title with a long run for home, it was clear Coe Snr was right.

* Rain ruined the first day of the tennis yesterday, but there was still a surprise when top seed Ana Ivanovic withdrew from the competition because of inflammation in her right thumb.

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