Back on track: Coe opens London's Olympic facility
Sebastian Coe rolled back the years and was on the track again, making a first test of the surface that Usain Bolt will be running on at the London Olympics.
''For me it feels fast,'' said the 1,500-meter Olympic champion in 1980 and 1984. ''I'm guessing sprinters will like that, but as a middle-distance runner it also felt accommodating and firm enough for me.''
With the Olympics 10 months away, the head of London's organizing committee ran 100 meters with youngsters before completing a lap with Hannah England, the world silver medalist in the 1,500.
''It feels really, really fast - even today in just getting a jog on it you can tell it is going to be really fast,'' England said. ''These are the tracks that you see world records created on by people like Usain Bolt. This is like a culmination of all the little tricks to make a track fast and they have brought them all here. This feels like the calm before the storm.''
Despite speculation that London might choose a blue track, organizers have stuck with a traditional red rubber surface.
''I'm color blind so it won't make a jot of difference to me,'' Coe said. ''They keep me well away from those decisions.''
Some journalists who jogged around the track in unseasonably hot conditions said the 80,000-seat facility did not protect them from gusts that created a headwind.
''It felt all right when I was down there,'' Coe said. ''But this is Britain.''
The stadium is the first of its kind in Britain capable of hosting a world athletics championship, which London is bidding for in 2017.
And Coe assured the IAAF team inspecting London's bid on Monday that the track will remain in place after the Olympics regardless of whether Tottenham wins its court action against rival soccer club West Ham, whose bid for the stadium triumphed this year.
While West Ham will combine soccer and track and field in a downsized 60,000-seat venue after the 2012 Games, Tottenham planned to demolish the stadium to build a new one without any track and field legacy.
''Tottenham's actions are only about the process, not the fact,'' Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said. ''And if they were to win in the High Court we would simply start the whole process again and next time around the provision of track would be nonnegotiable.''