2014 Speakers

Lord Sebastian Coe

Olympic Medalist, 2012 Olympic Games Organiser

Lord Sebastian Coe is an Olympic champion, British politician and former chair of the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Using his refined political skills and strategic know-how, he famously led London’s bid to host the Games, beating Paris, Madrid and New York.

Seven years later, the Prime Minister thanked him for “lifting the hearts of the nation” and for organising the “most successful Games of modern times”.  It was this determination combined with a positive attitude that had earlier helped him become one of the greatest athletes of his generation.

Coe first made a name for himself in the track and field arena and was considered one of the best middle-distance runners of all time. An inspirational world-record holder and Olympic champion, he set 12 world records over four distances, achieving four gold and three silver medals in the Olympics and European Championships.

In his book ‘The Winning Mind’, Coe takes the reader on his journey to success, from the moment he was inspired as a child by a local hero, to his father's grueling training routine. Discussing his career setbacks as well as victories, he explains how he defeated his competition through disciplined training, “you don’t become a champion by turning up and hoping to get lucky”.

Doubt, cynicism and irony are character traits that seem to play no part in Coe’s personality. Instead, he is a walking testament to self-belief. “Inspirational leaders need to have a winning mentality in order to inspire respect. It is hard to trust in the leadership of someone who is half-hearted about their purpose, or only sporadic in focus or enthusiasm”.

Coe was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1982 and then the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1990. These awards recognised his contribution to local society, his significant achievements and his outstanding service to the community.

A Loughborough University graduate, Coe’s career history is remarkably diverse. After retiring from competitive athletics, he entered politics and served as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons for Falmouth and Camborne, and as a member of the Conservative Party between 1992 and 1997.

In 2002, he was awarded a Life Peerage, becoming Lord Coe of Ranmore. He has since been appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), and named Greatest Briton in the first ever Morgan Stanley Awards.

In 2012, he was one of 24 athletes inducted as inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Hall of Fame and was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event in December 2012.

As well as being former chairman of the 2012 Olympic Games’ organising committee, he is vice-president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) and has been both head of FIFA’s ethics committee and a steward of the British Boxing Board of Control.

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