LORD COE AUTOGRAPHS IOM OLYMPIC “RUNNERS” STAMP
By Peter Jennings FRPSL, FRGS
Lord Seb Coe, the world-famous Great Britain middle-distance runner, and Chair of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, has autographed a sheetlet of the superb IOM £1 “runners” 2012 Olympic Games stamp, designed by Sir Paul Smith.
Seb Coe, who headed the Olympic bid to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to London, won the 1500m gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and successfully and mesmerisingly defended his title four years later at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, also agreed to be photographed holding the IOM stamps.
Lord Coe, a former conservative MP, and Sir Craig Reedie, IOC Member, are both members of the East India Club in London and had spoken and answered questions together with Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair of LOCOG, after a recent “London 2012” dinner for members and their guests.
A range of penetrating and discerning questions were all answered with candour and sparkle but under strict “Chatham House” rules, meaning that nothing may be divulged. Such was the enthusiasm of the distinguished trio answering questions that the event did not finish until after 11pm, an hour way beyond Club custom. The exclusive photograph I was able to take shows Lord Coe holding the IOM stamps as he left his club.
The Olympic story began in February 1894 when the father of the modern Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, visited England as a guest of Sports Club president, Sir John Astley. He had come to England to gather support to re-launch the Olympic Games. Among the people he talked to were the Prince of Wales, Lord Desborough, founder of the British Olympic Association, the Rt Hon Arthur Balfour, the future Prime Minister, and Charles Herbert, Secretary of the Amateur Athletics Association, who helped to design the Olympic track and field programme.
A dinner was held at the Sports Club, (now part of today’s East India Club) in what would be Coubertin’s last planning meeting before the Sorbonne conference in June 1894, where the International Olympic Committee was officially established. From those early beginnings to the present day, the East India Club has retained its connections with the IOC. What a very fitting venue for Lord Coe to autograph this splendid sheet of IOM 2012 Olympic stamps!