Seb Coe returns to his roots – and to his old school ties

OLYMPIC legend Seb Coe returned to Sheffield this week to join the city's 'walk of fame' – and to drop in at one of his old schools.

A visit to Tapton on Wednesday led to a reunion with his form teacher David Jackson, an accomplished cross country runner himself.

“Seb recalls David as a sensitive and understanding teacher who he still keeps in touch with,” said headteacher David Bowes. “We asked him if it was true that part of his training was to race the buses up Crimicar Lane at Fulwood and he said it was…”

Mr Bowes said Lord Coe recalled his schooldays with great affection and was an excellent ambassador for Tapton.

“We held a special assembly at which he spoke very warmly about his time here and how he had been encouraged to enjoy his sport,” he said.

“It was his first time here in the new building so he was given a tour by the head boy and head girl. He seemed impressed.”

The former Olympic athlete also met a group of six young runners from Tapton who are to represent the city at the National Schools Cross Country Championships in Leeds next month.

Mike Guo, Kelly Hewitson, Hazel Stubbs, Chris Grayson, James Gray and Laurel Quinn will all take part in the event, along with Alex Firth who was away from school at a university entrance interview.

Lord Coe unveiled a ‘Sheffield legends’ plaque bearing his name in the pavement in front of the town hall.

“I wasn’t born in Sheffield,” he said. (In fact he was born in London in 1956.) “But my parents had the great good sense to raise me here.

“This city made me, I was educated here, trained here as an athlete, was a member of the Hallamshire Harriers which is one of the greatest clubs anywhere. I was made in Sheffield and proud of it.”

He remembered how he trained in Graves Park and the Peak District around Derwent and Ladybower.

“My favourite runs were along Rivelin Valley Road, six lots of half miles, my coach, who also happens to be my old man, pacing me in his car – which wasn’t always popular with other motorists.

“It was without a doubt the best place to train in the world, so beautiful and yet so demanding.

“Everywhere you run in this city seems to be uphill. It was great preparation for cross country races.”

Lord Coe, chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, also toured sporting organisations in Sheffield and Leeds.

At Sheffield Hallam University he was given a presentation about the university’s sports research facilities and briefed on the university’s role in supporting Lighting the Flame, South Yorkshire’s campaign to highlight what the the region has to offer for the 2012 Games.