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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Sebastian Coe

Sebastian Coe remains one of athletics' all-time greats.

A holder of four Olympic medals and eight world records in middle-distance running, his rivalry with fellow Britons Steve Ovett and Steve Cram dominated middle-distance racing for much of the 1980s.

Indeed, few will forget the Moscow Olympics in 1980 when both Coe and Ovett were at their peak.

Both had entered the 1,500m and the 800m, which was held first.

"I've never known pressure like it," said Coe. Uncharacteristically, Coe let Ovett dictate the pace in the 800 and was never in the race. His finishing sprint was too late, with Ovett taking the gold.

"There is only one medal that counts," Coe said later, "I have to make sure it does not happen again."

It did not. In the biggest, most pressure-packed race of his career, Coe rose to the occasion in the 1,500m final, proving to all that he was not just a record setter, but could win the big races when it counted too.

Clocking an unheard of 12.1 seconds for the final 100 meters, Coe's kick was too much for Ovett and others.

His gaping expression of joy and relief at the finish line remains as one of the most striking in Olympic history.

After the race he said: "I knew I could now retire at any point and feel a satisfied man."

He did not retire, however, and in June of 1981, ran perhaps his finest race, smashing his own 800m record in an astonishing 1:41:73 in Florence Italy.

When the 1984 Olympic rolled around, few gave Coe much chance of winning more gold, but again he rose to the occasion, taking silver in the 800m and gold in the 1,500m.

In 1992, Coe was elected a member of the British Parliament for the Conservative Party.

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