Alan Hubbard

Any head-hunting agency tasked with selecting candidates to become the next President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would need to look no further than the CV of Sebastian Newbould Coe, aka Baron Coe of Ranmore.

Let’s not beat about the proverbial bush. Coe and the IOC Presidency are a perfect fit and news that he is giving serious consideration to run international sport’s top job is surely a welcome ray of sunshine in these days of gloom and doom.

He is as bespoke for it as a suit from Savile Row. A distinguished Olympian - two successive 1500 metres gold medals, former long-standing 800 metres record holder, ex-member of Parliament, Knight of the Realm now elevated to the House of Lords, one-time chair of Sport England and the British Olympic Association, architect of London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympics, an event he then orchestrated as one of the outstanding in the history of the Games, currently in command of World Athletics, an organisation on a par with FIFA as the biggest in global sport.

There is no doubt that he is the supreme networker among sport’s influencers, equally at home pressing the flesh of sheikhs and addressing the masses.

It is true to say that, he is now as close to royalty as you can get, which should suit the IOC. Indeed, should testimonials be required no doubt HRH Princess Anne, a fellow member of the IOC, memorably seen dancing a jig of joy with Coe to celebrate London’s victory over Paris in Singapore to host the 2012 Games.

So would a host of political heavyweights, among them one of his best mates, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, still highly regarded on the international stage despite being evicted from 10 Downing Street. As Boris would say Coe is "oven ready" to become numero uno.

It is not just because he is British that I hope Coe does throw his hat into the Olympic Rings should Thomas Bach, as looks likely after such a torrid spell in the hot seat, step down in 2025. 

Or the fact that I have known him as a friend for nigh on half a century, since he was an impecunious teenage prodigy. Looking at those who might succeed Bach I can see no one better equipped.

Our columnist argues that Sebastian Coe, current President of World Athletics, is a suitable candidate to run for President of the IOC ©Getty Images
Our columnist argues that Sebastian Coe, current President of World Athletics, is a suitable candidate to run for President of the IOC ©Getty Images

And although he may deny it publicly, I believe that privately he has always seen the IOC Presidency as his ultimate ambition.

At 66, though he looks a good 20 years younger despite greying hair, he will know that this is the last opportunity he will have under IOC regulations.

Should he take it, and take over from Bach I like to think that I am among those who paved the way for it to happen.

Some 20 years ago, with the British Government having approved London as a bidder for the 2012 Games, I was covering an athletics meeting at Crystal Palace.

At the time that bid was ailing under the leadership of American Barbara Cassani, a UK based airline executive who was a surprise appointment by the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

A nice enough lady, but someone I described as a square peg in the Olympic Rings. At the athletics meeting a small group of us, who included insidethgames editor Duncan Mackay, Colin Hart of The Sun and the Daily Mail’s Neil Wilson, buttonholed the late and much lamented Tessa Jowell, the Labour Government Minister responsible for sport, as well as media and culture. 

We gave her something of an ear bashing over the absence of Coe from the bidding team. Why had the nation’s most popular Olympian been overlooked, we asked. Was it political because he had been, albeit briefly, a Conservative member of Parliament?

Tessa was clearly taken aback but she was a smart politician and a good listener. Within a few days Coe was announced as the bid’s vice-chairman.

Sebastian Coe was chair of the London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee ©Getty Images
Sebastian Coe was chair of the London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee ©Getty Images

It was not long before Mrs Cassani resigned and Coe became chairman.

The rest, as they say, is Olympic history.

One of the things I have always liked about Coe, apart from his ingrained diplomacy is that he is very much his own man. 

This was typified by his defiance of future Parliamentary boss Margaret Thatcher, to compete in the Moscow Olympics of 1980, which she had urged Britain to boycott.

Politically he is you might say, Tory Lite, though these days he is more steeped in sports politics than the even murkier version.

So what would a Lord Coe Presidency be like? Certainly he would be tough on drugs and recalcitrant Russians? And I know one thing for sure.

Should he be elected, and boxing booted off the Olympic roster, it would be restored quicker than a referee’s count of ten.

For he is as passionate about boxing and its history as he is athletics and Chelsea FC.

There is no doubt in my mind that he would be a force for good at the helm of the IOC in the turbulent times that are ahead. So go for it, Seb!