Coe can”t wait for New Year”s Day as it signals the start of the Olympic year
Sebastian Coe admits there will be a special feeling when he wakes up on New Year”s Day – and one that will take him back to his days as an Olympic competitor.
Coe, chairman of the London 2012 organising committee, says in his days as the world”s best middle-distance runner, Olympic years were noticeably different – starting from day one of that year.
“I am going to wake up on January 1 with the same level of excitement and feeling of responsibility that I woke up with when I was an Olympic competitor,” said Coe.
Excited: Coe is looking forward to being down to days not years until London 2012
“Waking up on January 1 was always different in Olympic year to any other year, and I was starting the process of trying to figure my way through the months to the Games.
“For us there will be the realisation that there are no more years now – we are down to days.
“This is the Olympics and it doesn”t get any bigger, and the responsibility doesn”t get any greater that this.”
The arrival of the Games in the midst of economic gloom also resonates strongly with Coe, and increases his sense of responsibility at a time when some question the worth of the expenditure of 9.3billion of public money on the Games and regeneration of east London.
“For a lot of people the world is a very challenging place at the moment,” said Coe. “I want to get the management of the project right but also to recognise that we are delivering the Games at a time when many people have had a battering.
“We have a responsibility to deliver something that just lifts the spirit of the nation a bit and if we manage to achieve that then I will be happy.”
Glory days: Coe celebrating after winning the men”s 1500m at the 1980 Olympics
The London Olympics and Paralympics will be the biggest sporting event ever to have hit the British Isles. When the Olympics came to London previously, in 1948 and 1908, they were mere shadows of the occasion the Games have now become. Even the football World Cup in 1966 when England triumphed will have nothing on the Olympics in London in July and August.
“I remember 1966; I was 10 and I watched the final in a house opposite Stamford Bridge, and I know it was a big moment. But actually only a few thousand people went out into the streets of London to watch the World Cup being paraded,” added Coe.
“And rarely a day goes by without someone writing to me about their 1948 experiences and remembering that as being a big moment in their lives. But this is going to be like nothing the country has ever experienced.”
Coe”s stewardship of the organising committee has been relatively straightforward.
He was not challenged by the delays that plagued Athens in 2004, nor the human rights issues that China”s totalitarians encountered ahead of the 2008 Games in Beijing.
The most controversial situation encountered by London organisers has been the sponsorship by chemical giant Dow, who now own Union Carbide, the firm at the centre of the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984 when thousands died in a gas leak.
Going for gold: Heptathlete Jessica Ennis is one of several GB athletes competin
Suggestions of a vote on a possible boycott by the Indian Olympic Association proved to be misplaced, even though there are ongoing murmurs of discontent in the sub-Continent.
London 2012 organisers confirmed last week that Dow”s branding will not appear on the fabric wrap surrounding the Olympic Stadium before or during the Games.
In the greater scheme of things, such events will hardly count as low points on a journey that for Coe has been one high point after another ever since London won the International Olympic Committee”s vote in Singapore in July 2005.
“There have been some extraordinary moments since then,” said Coe. “For me one of the biggest was when I was told a quarter of a million people had signed up saying they wanted to volunteer, that they wanted to give up six weeks to be part of this.
“People talk about “the big society” – well this is it. This has told me what we are as a nation”.