Contemporaries of Seb Coe show their support, by Jeff Benjamin


Coe_Seb-Gala10.jpgSeb Coe, photo by

The accolades continue for Seb Coe have continued to come in. RBR writer Jeff Benjamin collected some supportive comments from Joe Falcon, Bill Rodgers, Craig Virgin, Rod Dixon and Joe Newton.

As news spread of the election of Sebastian Coe to lead the IAAF, there was lots of hope and optimism being felt, but no more so than among those who have known Coe throughout his fabled athletic career.
Bentonville Police Lieutenant Joe Falcon was leaving the local courthouse today when he was informed of Sebastian Coe's election victory. Falcon, one of Americas top runners whose 3:49 Dream Mile victory in 1990 took place 25 yrs ago, was thrilled. "My Arkansas coach John McDonnel made so many friends in the track world. It was through him I was able to meet and train from time to time with Sebastian Coe. I also met his father Peter and trained with Seb under Dr. David Martin's programs between 1989-1990." But Falcon also talked about Coe the person as well. "Sebastian Coe's running accomplishments are impeccable, but they are even greater as a person. His election to run World Athletics will have nothing but great and positive ramifications for the sport we all love."
New Zealand running legend Rod Dixon knows Coe from earlier days. The 1972 Olympic 1500 Bronze medalist, who later on won the 1983 NY Marathon in very dramatic fashion, first encountered Seb and his father and Coach Peter in 1975. That meeting became a bond between the 3 of them in those up and coming years. Says Dixon--"It was 1975 and I was in Gateshead England to run against Brendan Foster over 5000m when a young athlete came on the shuttle to the stadium, quiet and so young. I watched him run the 800m as fast as he could from the gun. Later that year, I was back to run a mile race and this young 'fella' was in the race. The Gun goes off and he runs as fast as he can and we only caught him with 120 yards to run. I remember saying, "Watch out for this runner, one day he isn't going to get caught!!"
"Then in 1976 after the Montreal Olympics I ran the British 1500m Championships - again this young man was on the start line and again we didn't catch him until the home straight!! I said right there and then: the message is "learn by doing"
"1979 was the Golden year for Sebastian Coe - I was in Oslo for his World Record 1.42.33 staying at the same 'Summer Hotel' right across the hallway with John Walker. When he crossed the line, Seb and the crowd did not know the time or what he had done, so while everyone waited I ran onto the track and thrust my watch into his face and told him he had just broken the world record! A few weeks later I witnessed the Mile World Record at Oslo and then again the 1500m World Record at Zurich"
(Note--This period of Seb's record-breaking performances is known as the "41 Days".)
"The rest is history, as one might say," continued Dixon. As for the present news, Dixon, who leads his KIDS Marathon foundation in schools throughout the world, said, "Tuesday August 18 was the best news day - Lord Sebastian Coe voted to Presidency of the IAAF ; Voted for the Integrity of the Sport, by the Sport, for the survival of the Sport. It's the beginning of a new era with someone we trust and believe in. It's such an honor and privilege to witness and know and believe in the future."
Legendary York High School Cross Country Coach Joe Newton received the news of Coe's victory this morning and was ecstatic. Newton (Coach of "The Long Green Line" dynasty) met Seb and Peter in 1983. In 1984, preparing for his defense of his Olympic 1500 title in Los Angeles when many had written him off, Coe spent time with Newton and his family training on the York track and local golf course, a period of peak training which culminated in a silver at 800 meters, and his successive Gold medal, Olympic record performance. Said Coach Newton , "Oh, this is just dandy! It's just the greatest news I've heard in a long time. My wife and I love Sebastian like a son. He really loves the sport and is very smart and knows how to treat athletes and people very well. I am so proud and honored for him."
"Boston Bill" Rodgers greeted the news with his usual optimism. "It's Good news to see Seb Coe get elected to lead the IAAF," said the 4-time NYC and Boston champion." Track and Field, road racing, marathoning and Cross-Country are all wonderful global sports that need someone with terrific knowledge and love of these sports as well as someone who can work with worldwide media sponsors and member federations equally well." Rodgers also said,"Coe did this at the London Games.As for the issues Coe inherits, Rodgers said, "his other big challenge is to develop policies that will halt drug use by athletes agents coaches and those race directors who look the other way." But the 68 year old legend also gave his unwavering support. "All of us who love the Sport have your back Seb!," he exclaimed.
For American Distance Running great Craig Virgin, Coe's election came as no surprise. "After playing such a huge procurement/management role in the critically acclaimed 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, I knew he had a lot of "political juice or capital" to call on going into the IAAF elections," said America's XC icon, who is the only American to have won the World XC Championships, more remarkably winning it twice! "As someone who is passionate about middle and long distance track running eventsI can say I feel that they will be looked after better with Seb Coe as IAAF President. I think that is only natural and logical," said Virgin. Stating the obvious, the 2-time Olympian also stated that," I also love cross country and believe that Coe will do what he can to reform and revive and maybe even repackage the sport of cross country and attempt to return it to a yearly event again like it used to be." Virgin should know as he worked with Coe last year on an IAAF XC council seminar in Europe. "All in all, I am glad that a contemporary of mine has climbed to the role of IAAF Presidency and I congratulate him and wish him well in the months and years ahead."
Judging by the issues in the Sport, Coe is going to need the help and support of Falcon, Dixon, Rodgers and Newton.
But they, like so many others also know the fortitude of Coe, and he can never be counted out.

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