Steve Ovett has overtaken Seb Coe to become Chairman of the London Organising Committee on the final lap of the 2012 Olympic preparations.
Ovett timed his surprise manoeuvre perfectly at the first LOCOG meeting of the new year. It was classic Ovett. Coe, winding up a technically challenging powerpoint presentation, “Food Fit For Olympians – why we chose McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Cadbury”, failed to spot his former middle-distance rival nestling on his shoulder.
Then Ovett struck.
The UK 2-mile record holder’s faultless performance will be remembered as a master-class in overhead presentation technique.
Thrusting forward to the projector, Ovett revealed designs for a new, attractive Olympic logo that basic consumer research showed people generally liked. To spontaneous applause, the OBE-holder was quick to press home his advantage, introducing a range of plush toy mascots having not one but two eyes to ensure they were cute and appealing to children.
Coe, clearly rattled, responded sluggishly. His Olympic 2012 tow-away fee charges table was clearly not getting the crowd going in the way he had hoped.
Slide by slide, the gap between the two became a gulf as Ovett went on to unveil a ticketing plan based on the principle of seeing what you could buy before parting with the money for the tickets, similar to the way people in other countries had been able to purchase theirs – before delivering his hammer blow, proposing that, in the inclusive spirit of the Games, non-Visa card holders should also be allowed to join in.
Coe countered with a startling new proposal to make Izal the official toilet paper of the Olympics 2012, available only from Olympic Park kiosks in a range of Bronze, Silver and Gold softnesses. But to the assembled committee members it began to look like he was going backwards.
The July finish line had come so tantalizingly in sight, yet the man in dark blue knew his race was over. There was a brief handshake between the two former rivals of the cinder track. Then the life peer gathered his nobo markers and made his way quietly to the exit, jacket loosely wrapped around his slumped shoulders.
“Stephen has come here with a ragbag of populist policies,” remarked a disappointed Coe to waiting reporters, “because he’s more interested in winning than he is in maximising park-and-ride revenue. That’s Steve all over – but it’s not what the Olympics is about.”