Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson lead Jamaican squad, while a 132-strong American team has been named for the IAAF World Championships
Seb Coe’s double dose of mudMay 17, 2017
The IAAF president reflects on the racing he used to do as a young athlete, which sometimes included two cross country competitions in one day
Seb Coe says he sometimes did two cross country races in the same day as a teenager. He raced once for his school and then for his club and he believes it gave him a huge physical advantage over rivals although, he adds, “it would not be allowed today”.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist does not particularly endorse the idea, but it did not seem to do him any harm and he remembers: “I used to run 30-40 cross country races a year – very often one on Wednesday and another at the weekend.
“Sometimes I did one on Saturday morning for the school and then Saturday afternoon for the club and you’d never been allowed to do that nowadays.
“I had a massive physical advantage over other athletes who didn’t do cross country.”
The IAAF president adds: “It’s a mental thing too.
“If you run 3-5 miles across that kind of terrain in Yorkshire on the side of escarpments in places like Halifax and Batley and Huddersfield and the edges of Sheffield it gave you a massive physical advantage over kids who were not doing cross country.
“If you run cross country as a 16-17-year-old, there’s nothing much that will spook you physically on the track.”
He continues: “I believe with the problems we’ve had in European distance running that it’s not remotely coincidental that we’ve lost a generation of coaches who do not believe cross country is important.
“Paul Tergat won five world cross titles and lost the 10,000m in Sydney by the thickness of a vest. So you can do both.”
» You can read more from AW’s interview with Seb Coe in a six-page feature published in the May 11 edition of the magazine, which is available to buy and read digitally here