Taunton School at Dusk

Lord Sebastian Coe outlines career highlights in presentation for Taunton School students

Posted: 16th November 2021

Students at Taunton School with an interest in sport had the opportunity to speak to British politician and former Olympian Lord Sebastian Coe in a virtual Q&A hosted in the school’s theatre.

At the talk, Lord Sebastian Coe, who is now the President of World Athletics, discussed his school days and how they shaped his early career in athletics, his experience on the world’s sporting stage and how it led to him to lead the UK’s successful bid to host the London 2012 Olympics. He also discussed the modern challenges surrounding athletics as a sport, including shoe technology, anti-doping and DSD athletes, or transgender athletes.

The former middle-distance runner won two gold and two silver Olympic medals at the 1980 (Moscow) and 1984 (Los Angeles) Olympic Games in the 1500m and 800m, respectively.  After his athletics career, Lord Sebastian Coe became a Conservative member of parliament from 1992 to 1997 for Falmouth in Cornwall, and became a Life Peer on 16 May 2000. He is now the President of World Athletics.

When asked about his favourite memory from his career, Lord Sebastian Coe said that the most pivotal moment came from his experience at the European Championships in 1978 in Prague, where he and his rival, Steve Ovett, were overtaken and subsequently beaten by an unknown German athlete.

“I look back and think that I learned more on that day having lost it than I would have having won it. It’s not a steady liner progression. You’ll have set backs and challenges, so it’s really learning to come back from those set backs and also learning to maintain a perspective about it. Don’t conclude that you can only learn from wins. It’s often the losses that have shaped the forward momentum.”

Reflecting on his brief visit to Taunton School in recent years, Lord Sebastian Coe said he was pleased to see that the school took great pride in its sporting offer: “Taunton School is clearly a school that doesn’t just tuck sport away at the edges of the curriculum as a ‘nice to have’, it takes sport seriously, as it should be treated.”

Taunton School Director of Sport, Daniel Pettifer says, “From my point of view it was refreshing to hear the humility that came from someone who has achieved the pinnacle of everything he has ever tried. I think it is hard for children to buy in to messages coming from people whose achievements are not recognised in their lifetime, but Lord Sebastian Coe clearly reached the students and engaged them throughout the entire event.”

Taunton School offers four pathways for students hoping to study academic Physical Education: Level 2 BTEC Sport and Level 3 BTEC Sport and Exercise Science, as well as iGCSE and A Level Physical Education.

Learn more about Sport at Taunton School here.

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