LEGENDARY athlete Lord Sebastian Coe inspired youngsters at his former Sheffield school on the day he carried the Olympic torch in the city.
Lord Coe said it had been ‘one of the best days of his life’ after bearing the flame in front of 20,000 people through the streets of Sheffield.
Earlier in the day he had revisited Tapton School in Crosspool, where he studied as a pupil.
The former champion, and chairman of the London 2012 organising committee, met youngsters - and even his now-retired former PE teacher John O’Keefe.
David Rowe, Tapton headteacher, said: “It’s absolutely great when Lord Coe comes back, and he has done several times.
“I think he has a lot of enthusiasm for Sheffield and his old school, and a lot of fond memories.
“It was fantastic he was able to see John again and Ann Riley, who was in the PE department when he was here and did a magnificent job of organising the whole event.”
Lord Coe, who won 1,500m gold at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, was a guest as the school hosted its very own mini Olympics for Tapton feeder primary schools.
Hundreds of youngsters from Lydgate, Hallam and Netherthorpe schools, as well as Tapton students, enjoyed activities.
Their special guest was an extra motivation to budding sports stars.
Mr Rowe said: “Every time he comes there is a grand swell of enthusiasm - he knows how to relate to the children.
“When he is present the youngsters feel it is possible to emulate, in different ways, the success he has had. He is a great role model.”
Before leaving the school to carry the torch in Sheffield city centre on Monday, Lord Coe left a lasting memento. He signed a photograph of himself winning an event .
That picture now hangs in the school’s PE department.
The picture was taken when he beat rival Steve Ovett over the finish line at a running event.
Every student at the school was also able to follow in Seb’s footsteps by carrying a genuine Olympic torch.
Another former pupil is involved with organising the games and was able to help take the experience to youngsters.
Mr Rowe said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was lovely to see them carry the torch around the relay. When they saw it they said, ‘Oh wow’. We were very proud to have Seb here.”
Lord Coe carried the torch along Arundel Gate and told the audience ‘it doesn’t get any better than this’.