LOS ANGELES — Sebastian Coe walked onto the track at the University of Southern California and memories of winning his second consecutive gold medal in the 1,500 at the Los Angeles Olympics came flooding back.
“It was quite emotional,” he said Friday after speaking at the opening session of the International Olympic Committee’s Conference on Women and Sport. “It was like as though it was yesterday.”
Actually, it was nearly 28 years ago that Coe became the only person to win successive Olympic titles in the 1,500, winning his second gold on a hot July day in an Olympic-record time.
Coe actually competed at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a couple miles south of the Southern Cal campus he visited Thursday to meet with some U.S. swimmers who hope to compete in this summer’s London Games.
“I find it more evocative going back to USC,” he said, citing his long friendship with Trojans track coach Ron Allice.
This time, Coe didn’t sneak into the Coliseum like he did in 2000, when he was in town and hopped over a locked fence to check out the vast empty stadium. The running track he won on is long gone, having been overtaken in favor of more seating for Southern Cal’s football games.
On the day of the 1,500 in 1984, Coe ducked into an older building near the track to warm up in the cool indoor air.
“I stumbled into a room and I just sort of lapped around there and all of a sudden all these rhythmic gymnasts came in,” he said. “There was this bizarre scene of me warming up for one of the biggest races in my life and all these 16-year-old girls with ribbons and balls going around.
“It’s funny what I remember.”
As chairman of the organizing committee for the London Olympics, Coe is in a position to create a memorable experience for a new generation of athletes. He successfully fought to preserve a scaled-down Olympic Stadium after the games end, and helped land the 2017 world track and field championships for the venue.