Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Woodward Was Dazzled by Coe's Wow Factor at the Start of Journey to Glory

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How Woodward Was Dazzled by Coe's Wow Factor at the Start of Journey to Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie Olympics Correspondent

[bar] ORD went around Loughborough University that Seb Coe was training. The captain of the rugby team along with 20 others ran up to the bank overlooking the athletics track to catch a glimpse of the middle-distance runner being put through his paces.

The memory is still vivid even though the incident -- which was played out on numerous occasions -- last happened some 35 years ago.

Even back then, Lord Coe was renowned for his relentless training while the rugby captain in question, Clive Woodward, got his first glimpse of what it was like to train to the limit.

"Word would get round that Seb was training and 20 of us would sit on the bank and I'd just think 'wow' at those sessions," Sir Clive recalls. "I thought if we as rugby players can ever be as fit as that 'watch out'."

Sir Clive's favourite Olympic moment also involves his fellow alumni at the 1980 Olympics. He recalls: "I remember him coming across the line. He was just this amazing athlete."

The pair are likely to rub shoulders regularly in the ensuing weeks, Coe in his role as chairman of Locog, Sir Clive as deputy chef de mission of the 542-strong Team GB.

Both share a similar philosophy of doing things differently. Lord Coe was renowned for leaving no stone unturned in his punishing training regime while Sir Clive took the Rugby Football Union kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

His methods occasionally raised eyebrows such as when he gave all his England players laptops and installed a game on each one called Winning or getting former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell on board for the Lions tour to New Zealand.

Unsurprisingly, it led him to being described as maverick. Mere mention of the word brings a smile to his face. "I like the word maverick," he admits. "I think sport is about not being scared to make mistakes. It's good to be out there but sometimes you get it wrong.

"You get nine out of 10 things right but people remember the one thing. Though there's nothing that I look back on and think that was a rubbish idea but there are some I'm pleased to have lived to tell the tale."

As director of sport and one of three deputy chefs de mission of Team GB, he is in charge of a workforce of about 30 people at the BOA.

"My role is effectively to liaise with the coaches rather than the athletes," he explains. "I need to make sure the Is are dotted and the Ts crossed."

Looking from the outside in, it's difficult to understand what Sir Clive's role is exactly when it comes to the Games.

"I'll spend a lot of time at the ExCeL with sports like taekwondo, badminton, judo, wrestling and weightlifting," he divulges. "I'll be living in the village but will also deal with sports like beach volleyball, tennis and football. …

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