It is a warm, sultry day in July 2005 in Singapore. Delegates from 5 different countries are gathered in the main hall to deliver their final bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The London delegation know they are laying in 4th place. Between them lies 3 countries and a final presentation to the IOC. The odds of London winning the 2012 Olympic bid looks very thin, and most of the world are expecting the winner to be either Paris or Moscow, the two favourites.
Sebastian Coe, the former Olympic 1,500 metre gold medallist and 800 metre silver medallist rises to his feet. He has the task, as the lead person for the London delegation, of delivering the final presentation. He delivers, what has been described as one of the best speeches ever given to the IOC for an Olympic bid.
Several hours later, the delegates are all gathered again in the hall. The Chairman of the IOC fumbles with the envelope containing the winning bid.
As we all know now, the winning bid was London. The question. How did London come from 4th place to win the bid in one last presentation? The answer is a compelling, personal story.
Sebastian Coe was recently featured on the BBC’s Desert Island Disk’s radio programme. During that show he was asked about his speech.
Here is a transcript of the speech:
Kirsty Young: When you won the Olympic bid then in July 2005, of course it was a team effort, but key to the winning, so I believe from what I read, was a very personal speech that you gave yourself about a moment for you. Was it the 68 games?
Lord Coe: Yes it was, in Sheffield
Kirsty Young: And you were watching it on the TV. How old would you have been then?
Lord Coe: I was barely 12.
Kirsty Young: And what was it you told the Olympic committee about watching that?
Lord Coe: It was a very simple story about being dragged in to an assembly hall, in my school in Sheffield, and we watched the highlights of the games, the night before or the day before. Two local athletes in Sheffield; John and Sheila Sherwood. John got the bronze in the 4 hurdles, and Sheila narrowly missed the gold in the women’s long jump. And I just looked at this and I thought that this was the most extraordinary thing I’d seen. And I was sucked in by it.
In the Wikipedia entry for Sebastian Coe it is written “Coe’s presentation at the critical IOC meeting in July 2005 was viewed by commentators as being particularly effective, and the bid won the IOC’s blessing on 6 July.”
Finally, here is a not so good copy of the official Olympic bid video.