LONDON – Former Olympic Gold medalist Sebastian Coe, who is directing the 2012 Olympics Games, said in an interview with the Ethnos tis Kyriakis Greek newspaper, that preparing for the world’s biggest event was a challenge for the British so that they could understand something that the Greeks have in their DNA – the values of the the ancient and modern Games – and the meaning of tradition, the Olympic flame and the of the Olympic Spirit.
Do you think that you have achieved this goal?
Yes, at a satisfactory level. During the last seven years we managed to add 1.5 million people in those who are dedicated to sports and all relevant activities. We managed to upgrade the poor East London, and we have created new schools, hospitals, as well as social activity centers. This is a big heritage that the Olympic Games pass to the next generations. The big challenge over the next 10 years for the city officials and the country will be to retain and broaden all that we created the previous seven years.
Have the Olympic Games of Athens given you valuable lessons during your preparation for the Olympic Games of London?
Yes. Our biggest lesson was that we understood the Greek philosophy for the Olympic Spirit and Olympic behavior during the Games. In Athens, we experienced an authentic Olympic atmosphere, as it was expected due to the fact that the Olympic Games belong to Greece. We tried to teach this lesson to our citizens during the last seven years. It was not easy but I can say that we have managed a lot so far.
There was an opinion that strict security measures being part of the Olympic Games in London will damage the Olympic atmosphere, the Olympic Spirit and the freedom of the foreign visitors. Is this true?
We look for a balance and a logical use of the security measures. We believe that people who will view the Olympic Games must feel secure, as well as the athletes that should remain focused to their performance in sports. There will be a discretionary but necessary security to the spectators, but we will avoid exaggerations.
What would you advise Greeks who will visit London to watch the Games?
Have fun, entertain yourselves. London is a global city that offers a lot. We have more than 300 different societies, 200 different dialects and there is in London a vibrant and vital Greek community inside which the Greek visitors will possibly find friends and relatives.
You have won as an athlete four gold Olympic medals, you have been a distinctive member of the British politics and you are a member of the Parliament of the Lords. You also brought the Olympic Games in London and you have been a vital assistance in the preparations. Which could be your “next day”?
As a previous athlete myself, I have learned not to aim further than the finish line. This is why, currently, I am not aiming in nothing more than the successful completion of the Olympic Games. Afterwards, I will think of new things to occupy with.
Coe begun his athletic career when he was 11 years old, at the labor city of Sheffield, having as his trainer his father Peter, who helped him win his Olympic medals. He has won four gold medals, two for the 1500-meters run at the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984. He also won the gold medal in the 80- meters run at the European Competition in Stuttgart in 1986 and the silver medal in 1982 at the European Competition that was held in Athens. Coe loves football, and his favorite club is Chelsea.