The rivalry between British athletics legends Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett is to be made into a film by the BBC.
The pair dominated middle distance running in the late 1970s and first half of the 1980s, trading records and lighting up the Moscow Olympics. Ovett beat Coe to win gold at the 1980 Olympics in the latter’s favoured 800m. Coe then turned the tables in Ovett’s preferred 1500m later in the same Games – Coe was to retain his 1500m title four years later in Los Angeles.
In a 10-day period in 1981 they also traded the world record for the mile between them three times.
Coe at one point held the 800m, 1500m and mile world records at the same time, while Ovett subsequently became both the 1500m and mile world record holder.
Coe became Lord Coe on 2000 and is currently head of the London Olympics, while Ovett now lives in Australia.
The BBC is working with AL Films, whose producers were behind the BBC1 hit Small Island, to develop the movie, which is expected to be released before the 2012 Games.
Los Angeles-based British writer William Davies, who worked on hits such as Johnny English, Twins and Flushed Away, will write the screenplay. The movie is to be based on the classic book of the pair’s rivalry, Pat Butcher’s The Perfect Distance.
Producer Vicky Licorish said: “You were either an Ovett person or a Coe person and that’s what makes it such a great character piece as well.”
The film has as echoes of Chariots Of Fire, which was about British sprinters Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams at the 1924 Olympics and won four Oscars in 1981.