Exclusive: Ovett, Coe and Cram golds to feature in IAAF's "greatest athletics exhibition"

Saturday, 06 October 2012
By Mike Rowbottom

Steve Ovett_Sebastian_Coe__Steve_CramOctober 6 - The unique exhibition which will open in Barcelona next Saturday (October 13) to mark the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Centenary will contain gold medals won by Britain's all-conquering middle distance trio of the 1970s and 80s, Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram.

Ovett has donated his 800 metres medal from the 1980 Moscow Games, Coe is providing the 1500m gold from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and Cram's 1500m gold from the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Helsinki in 1983 will also be on display.

More than 300 items will be on show at Barcelona's Museu Olimpic i de l'Esport Juan Antoni Samaranch – next to the 1992 Olympic stadium on Montjuic Hill – from October 13 to November 25.

"There has never been an equivalent exhibition for the sport," said Chris Turner, the IAAF's editorial senior manager, who has curated the event.

"It will be the greatest collection of athletics memorabilia ever assembled."

1954 four_mins_mile_programmeThe 1954 four minute mile programme to be displayed at Barcelona's exhibtion 

An earlier triumvirate of British middle distance champions are involved in another key exhibit – a programme for the match at Iffley Road, Oxford where Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile on May 6, 1954, signed by pacemakers Chris Brasher, the 1956 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase gold medallist and Chris Chataway, the 1954 European three miles champion, as well as the man who achieved the landmark timing of 3min 59.4sec.

Also included will be the bodysuit and prototype Adidas shoes worn by Kenya's David Rudisha when he set his second world 800m record of 1:41.01 in Rieti in 2010.

"The first time Rudisha put his feet in the shoes was on that track," Turner said.

"They are incredibly pristine, as you would expect, but there is a slight mark on the back of one of them."

The larger part of the exhibition, including many priceless examples from 256BC onwards, is being temporarily donated by Brazilian Roberto Gesta de Melo, the IAAF Area Representative.

Nurmi plaquePaavo Nurmi bronze plaque

"Roberto is the biggest contributor to the exhibition," said Turner.

"He has his own air-conditioned athletics museum in the Amazonian jungle near the city of Manaus – the Olympic Gallery of Roberto Gesta de Melo – and he has provided unique and invaluable items from athletics antiquity.

"Roberto is a lifelong collector – he does it because he wants to promote the sport of athletics and its history."

Other items will include a bronze of Paavo Nurmi, the Finn who won nine Olympic gold medals between 1920 and 1928, a pole from the set with which the Ukraine's Sergey Bubka broke his world records, and a javelin with which Czech Jan Zelezny threw a world record, with the latter item being situated alongside the gold medal Britain's Steve Backley earned in Budapest, where he won the third of four consecutive European javelin titles.

To read Mike Rowbottom's blog on the exhibition click here.

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