News & Events

Sebastian Coe – Chairman of London 2012
Tuesday 23 January 2007

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012, accompanied by Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards, visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on the evening of 23 January 2007.

Lord Coe is considered to be one of the finest middle distance runners in history. He is certainly Britain’s greatest Olympic athlete. During his running career, he broke the world record 12 times in the 800m and 1500m track events. After retiring from athletics, Sebastian pursued a successful career in British politics. In 1992, he was elected Member of Parliament and served as chief of staff for William Hague until 1997. In 1997, Sebastian Coe was awarded a Peerage to the House of Lords. He successfully led the London bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and is now the Chairman of the Olympic Organising Committee for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Jonathan Edwards is also one of Britain’s finest athletes. Jonathan is one of only four athletes in history to hold the Olympics, World, European and Commonwealth titles at the same time. Jonathan is a devout Christian and such is his faith in God that he declined to compete in the 1991 world championships as the event fell on a Sunday. When asked about his faith, he replied, “My relationship with Jesus and God is fundamental to everything I do whether in work or sport.” It is his unique faith in God that allowed him to win a total of 25 gold, silver and bronze medals in major championships. He is still the world record holder in the triple jump, having set the record way back in 1995. Jonathan retired from athletics in 2003. In 2005, he joined the board of the 2012 London Olympics Organising Committee.

Coincidentally, their visit marked exactly 2012 days to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The party was welcomed by Girish Patel and introduced to the Board of Trustees. Yogvivek Swami escorted Lord Coe and Mr. Edwards upstairs to the main shrines of the Mandir and subsequently to the “Understanding Hinduism” exhibition.

The guests were greeted with rapturous applause inside the assembly hall where devotees had gathered for their arrival. The audience applauded as the sporting achievements of both athletes were read out. Yogvivek Swami garlanded Lord Coe and Jonathan Edwards. In his address, Lord Coe praised the spirit of volunteerism that the Mandir fosters and welcomed its participation in the 2012 games.

“Our message in Singapore [the city where Lord Coe won the bid for the right to host the games] chimes in with everything that I have heard tonight and I have witnessed. The message we took to Singapore was clear and unambiguous. It was about using sport to communicate with the next generation of young people – using sport to communicate the values of creativity, diversity and tolerance. Those, of course, are the values that surround us all here this evening.

I think one of the lessons we have also learnt tonight is that while we need 70,000 volunteers in 2012, I think we understand, when we come to your temple this evening, that we would not be standing marvelling at the spectacular architecture and the beautiful creations around us, had it not been for the volunteers that worked within such a professional structure to create something so beautiful in two years.”

Lord Coe and Jonathan Edwards were presented with mementos before leaving the auditorium. They then proceeded for a meal where the members of the Mandir sporting committee discussed their projects and achievements. Lord Coe’s visit provided an excellent opportunity for the Mandir to contribute towards the 2012 Olympic Games and assist the organising committee in their preparations.


To share his experience of the Mandir visit, Lord Coe posted a blog on the London 2012: Work In Progress website, with the title “Neasden’s magnificent Mandir“.

(also downloadable as PDF 103KB)

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