Brighton
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Steve Ovett
Any idiot can become an Olympic champion provided that they have a lot of luck, work hard and cross the finish line first in the final.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Full Name : Steven Michael James Ovett
Born : 9th October, 1955 (Brighton, West Sussex)
Event : 800 m, 1500 m, 1 mile, 5000 m
Lives : Steve now lives in Australia.
 
Junior
 
Steve Ovett was an outstandingly talented teenage athlete.
 
In 1969 he failed by just one tenth of a second to equal the UK 13 year-old best for 400 m. (53.6 sec.)
 
Six years later he was winning the National Junior cross country championship run over six miles !
 
Between these two achievements he was setting UK age records at the age of 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 over his Olympic winning distance of 800 m.
 
During his teenage years he also won AAA's junior titles over 400 m. (1971 and 1972). 
 
Steve's first major title came in 1973 when he won the European junior 800 m. in 1min. 47.53 sec. followed the next year in Rome with a silver in the senior event, where he set a European junior record of 1min. 45.8 sec. when still only 18.
 
His was a prodigious talent.
European Junior Championships in 1973
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1974-1975
 
In 1974 he also won his first AAA's title, the 800 m. (1min. 46.9 sec.).
 
He retained that title in 1975 (1min. 46.1 sec.) and won over the same distance in that year's European Cup Final in Nice (1min. 46.6 sec.). 
 
Before he reached the age of twenty he had run 47.5 sec. for 400 m, 1min. 45:75 sec. for 800 m, 3min: 39.5 sec. for 1500 m. and 3min. 57.0 sec. for the mile (he had run a 4-minute mile at the age of seventeen). 
 
1976
 
Unlike most teenage sensations Steve did not fade once he reached adulthood and by twenty was running in the first of his three Olympic Games, at Montreal, Canada, in both the 800 m. and the 1500 m.
 
He ran a personal best in the 1500 m. heats (3min. 37.9 sec) but failed to qualify for the final after finishing 6th in the semi-final (3min. 40.3 sec.). 
 
However, in the 800 m. the event he was destined to win four years later, he saved his personal best time for the final (1min. 45.4 sec.) where he finished a very creditable fifth behind the Cuban Alberto Juantoreno who won in a world record time of 1min. 43.5 sec.
 
1978
 
1978 began with victory on a snow covered Inter-Counties Cross Country course at Derby (from marathon runner Steve Jones) and climaxed at the European championships.
 
In spite of establishing a new UK record of 1min. 44.8 sec. for the 800 m. (beating Seb Coe's record by two tenths of a sec.) he failed to take the title, losing to Olaf Beyer (1min. 43.8 sec.) of East Germany, Coe was third.
 
The 1500 m. however, was a triumph and he won with a new championship best of 3min. 35.6 sec. from Irishman Eamonn Coghlan. Dave Moorcroft finished third in 3min.36.7 sec.
 
Steve finished the season by setting a new UK mile record of 3min. 52.8 sec. in Oslo which he improved to 3min. 49.6 sec. the following year the first ever sub 3min. 50 sec. by a British athlete. 
 
1979
 
His form in Oslo and throughout 1979 only served to wet everyone's appetite for the next year's "showdown" with Sebastian Coe at the Moscow Olympics.
 
800 m final, Montreal 1976
 
1500 m final, Prague 1978
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1980
 
Steve Ovett arrived in Moscow as most people's favourite to take the 1500 m. title.
 
Earlier that month, in Oslo, he had established a new one-mile record of 3min. 48.8 sec and two weeks later equalled Sebastian Coe's World 1500 m. record of 3min. 32.1 sec.
 
Furthermore, he had already experienced one Olympics, was the reigning European 1500 m champion and was unbeaten over 1500 m and one mile for three years.
 
His tilt at the 800 m would serve as a test for the "big one". 
 
To say it went wrong would be harsh but Steve's victory in the 800 m. was, to many people, a surprise.

He and Coe both won their semi-finals with similar times, neither extending themselves physically in their pre-amble to the final.
 
But thereupon the easy time ended and the final was a robust, bumping and pushing affair.
 
Steve's experience served him well as he battled his way round, never far from the front.
 
Coe chose to linger back from the fray and paid the price - he let Steve get just too far ahead.
 
The winning time was slow, 1min. 45.4 sec. (the same as Steve did for 5th place four years earlier) with Seb clocking 1min. 45.9 sec.
 
Steve was now ready to do the "double", last accomplished by New Zealand's Peter Snell in 1964 at Tokyo.
 
In another slow race however Steve just could not match Coe's "kick", or indeed the East German Jurgan Straub's doggedness on the finishing straight and had to settle for third place (3min. 39.0 sec. to Coe's 3min. 38.4 sec.).
 
He was gracious in defeat, "He (Seb) was a worthy winner. I just couldn't lift myself after the 800 m.".
 
Steve went on to improve his World mile record but never gained a championship medal to compare with his Olympic 800 m gold.
 
Fresh after his Olympic 800 m. gold medal Steve Ovett set off again on his quest for more World records, he was rewarded with one within three weeks.
 
In Koblenz, Germany, on August 27th. 1980, he lowered his (and Seb Coe's) World 1500 m. time of 3min. 32.1 sec. to 3min. 31.36 sec.
 

 
 
800 m final, Moscou 1980
 
5000 m Commonwealth, 1986
 
1982
 
Ovett did not defend his European 1500 m title in 1982 (won by Steve Cram).
 
1983
 
Ovett's 1500 m World record stood for exactly three years until Sydney Maree shaved it down to 3min. 31.24 sec. in Cologne.
 
Not to be outdone Steve promptly got it back a week later in Reiti, Italy, running 3min. 30.77 sec. on 4th Sept 1983.
 
That was destined to be Steve's fastest ever 1500 m.
 
1984
 
The 1984 Olympic Games were a disaster.
 
Suffering from bronchial problems he was fourth in his 800 m. semi-final (1min. 44.81sec.) and a distant last in the final, the event he had won four years earlier.
 
Worst still in the he failed to finish 1500 m final.
 
1986
 
1986 held mixed fortunes, in Edinburgh he won the Commonwealth 5000 m title from Jack Buckner, in 13min. 24.11sec.
 
International Championships
 
1973 : 1st 800 m European Juniors
1974 : 2nd 800 m Europeans
1975 : 1st 800 m European Cup
1976 : 5th 800 m, sf 1500 m Olympics
1977 : 1st 1500 m European Cup, 1st 1500 m World Cup
1978 : 2nd 800 m, 1st 1500 m Europeans
1980 : 1st 800 m, 3rd 1500 m Olympics
1981 : 1st 1500 m World Cup
1983 : 4th 1500 m Worlds
1984 : 8th 800 m, dnf 1500 m Olympics
1986 : 1st 5000 m Commonwealth Games, dnf 5000 m Europeans
1987 : 10th 5000 m Worlds
 
UK Internationals : 23 (1974-87)
 
National Championships
 
Won AAA 800 m 1974-6, 1500 m 1979-80; Youths 400 m 1971-2; UK 1500 m 1977, 1981, National Junior CC 1975.
 
Personal bests
 
400 m 47.5 (1974),
600 m 1:16.0 (1979),
800 m 1:44.09 (1978),
1000 m 2:15.91 (1979),
1500 m 3:30.77 (1983),
1M 3:48.40 (1981),
2000 m 4:57.71 (1982),
3000 m 7:41.3 (1977),
2M 8:13.51 (1978),
5000 m 13:20.06 (1986),
Half  marathon 65:38 (1977).
 
Indoors : 3000 m 7:59.6 (1990)
 
World records

3 at 1500 m 1980-3, 2 at 1 mile 1980-1. World 2 miles best 1978.
 
UK records

800 m (1), 1000 m (1), 1500 m (4), 1M (4), 2000 m (2) 1977-83.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Any idiot can become an Olympic champion provided that they have a lot of luck, work hard and cross the finish line first in the final (Steve Ovett).