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Monday, August 21, 2006

All-Time Top Tens -- Men's 800 meters

Seventh in a continuing series.

#10. Joaquim Cruz, Brazil
#9. Mel Sheppard, USA
#8. Alberto Juantorena, Cuba
#7. Ted Meredith, USA
#6. John Woodruff, USA
#5. Douglas Lowe, UK

#4. Sebastian Coe (United Kingdom)
Born September 29, 1956, Chiswick, London

You may wonder why Seb Coe, considered one of the all-time greats, is ranked as low as fourth. There's a very simple reason; winning major international championships is considered very important, and Coe rarely did that. In two Olympic attempts he took silver both times. In three European Championships he took a bronze, a silver, and a gold. He won the European Cup twice and the World Cup once, but those competitions are of lesser importance.

He did put together an impressive streak in the late '70s and early '80s, winning 32 of 35 finals over a four-year span. Two of those three losses came at the worst possible time--the Olympics and European Championships.

He also put on some spectacular displays of record-setting. Much has been said about the two world records he set in this event, one in 1979 and the other in 1981. I'll try to add something new to the discussion; he held the world record longer than any other athlete, and was responsible for a greater improvement on existing world records than anyone else.

Amongst the various other things to know about Coe is that he was elected to Parliament as a Tory in 1992, that he was made a life peer as Baron Coe in 2000, that he heads the organizing committee for the 2012 London Olympics and is considered a strong candidate to someday become IOC president, that he owns a chain of health clubs, that "Lord Seb Coe" is an anagram for "So, cold beer?", and he joined Lord Burghley as the only men to have ever succeeded in the Great Court Run.

Year Rank Mark Meets, Etc
1977 -- 1:44.95 1)Euro Indoor
1978 3 1:43.97 3)Euro Ch
1979 1 1:42.33 WB 1)Euro Cup; undefeated (10 meets)
1980 2 1:44.7 2)Oly Gms; 7 wins in 9 meets
1981 1 1:41.73 WB 1)Euro Cup, 1)W Cup; undefeated (11 meets)
1982 1 1:44.48 2)Euro Ch; only loss (5 meets)
1983 10 1:43.80
1984 2 1:43.64 2)Oly Gms; only loss
1985 3 1:43.07
1986 1 1:44.10 1)Euro Ch; 6 wins in 7 meets
1987 -- 1:46.18
1988 -- 1:43.93
1989 8 1:43.38
1990 -- 1:47.24 6)Comm Gms

Links: Wikipedia -- Sporting Heroes

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