It's go for Coe with gold in San Sebastian

It's go for Coe with gold in San Sebastian
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Great Britain's Sebastian Coe leads the 1500m from Steve Cram and Steve Ovett at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

In the countdown to the European Athletics Indoor Championships which start in Prague on Friday, we are taking a trip down memory lane with a series of flashbacks to some of the great moments of the event.

We begin with 1977. The setting is San Sebastian in Spain for the eighth edition of the championships after being renamed from the European Indoor Games in 1970. It was an annual competition back then and the 800m that day set one man on his way to one of the greatest careers track and field has known - Sebastian Coe.

How fitting. Sebastian wins in Sebastian. It was far from the first time in almost 40 years that Great Britain’s middle distance star would be making headlines.

Now Lord Coe, a double Olympic 1500m champion, a multiple holder of world records, the man who brought the Olympic Games to London in 2012, his mark on the international stage came on Sunday 13 March when he won the 800m in a then-Championships record of 1:46.54.

It was a race he dominated, leading after 400m in a time of 51.4, and he just ran away from the field. On the last lap, he never once buckled, looking stronger all the time and he broke further clear in the home straight to triumph in a run which was also a national record as he beat East Germany’s Erwin Gohlke, who was second in 1:47.2, and Rolf Gysin, of Switzerland, who was third in 1:47.6.

He raised both hands in the air, a celebration which would become so familiar over the next seven years as, along with fellow Briton Steve Ovett, Coe would take the middle-distance world by storm.

Coached by his father Peter, the 20-year-old Coe was perfection at these European Athletics Indoor Championships and his delight matched his glory.

As he recalled in his autobiography, Running My Life: “When I broke the tape, I could barely believe what I had done. I was now the holder of a European title! Not only that, I had set a new UK indoor record.”

Now, 38 years on from San Sebastian, Coe remains one of the biggest names in the sport. But he will never forget 1977 where, in less than two minutes, victory at the European Athletics Indoor Championships set him on the road to legendary status.