“The most honoured and the sincerest awards that can ever be given are those by your peers, and I’m surrounded by the most extraordinary group of people, global icons, who have elevated way beyond sport what they’ve achieved. We all have that unshakeable belief that sport can, and does, transform lives. So I thank them, and very openly share this with them, because it is the ethos that we all share in this Academy. This is an extraordinary honour. Thank you very much to the Academy. I’m very, very flattered.”
I have known Sebastian Coe for many years in many guises. Back in the 1970s and 80s, we competed together in track and field meets around the world. We even won gold medals together in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was a wonderful middle distance runner and a great competitor. He is of course remembered for his gold medals in Moscow and Los Angeles, but I also remember an amazing 41 days in 1979 when he broke three world records with what appeared such ease. Today’s younger generation, particularly in the United Kingdom, will probably remember him more as the man who brought the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London, which were organised impeccably and which became a wonderful festival of sport for competitors and spectators alike. I know that Seb always saw the Games not just as an event in itself, but as a way to ignite sport among young people in the UK and to leave a legacy for London, especially East London where the Games were held. Now, after a great showing by British athletes in the Games, Seb has become Chairman of the British Olympic Association, charged with keeping that success going. With him in charge, I think there is every chance of that happening. I heartily congratulate him on the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to mark a magnificent career in sport, which is showing no sign of slowing down.
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