Daniel Radcliffe to play Coe in film about great rivalry with Steve Ovett

Track battles culminated in memorable clash at 1980 Moscow Olympics

Daniel Radcliffe: will play the role of Sebastian Coe in a film entitled Gold. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Daniel Radcliffe: will play the role of Sebastian Coe in a film entitled Gold. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA


Daniel Radcliffe is set to play London 2012 boss Sebastian Coe in a film about his track battles with fellow athlete Steve Ovett three decades ago.

The Harry Potter actor has signed up to appear in Gold, which looks at the intense rivalry between the middle distance runners.

The movie was first announced in February 2010 and at the time it was said there were hopes to have the film released before the London games.

Radcliffe’s casting has been reported by The Hollywood Reporter, and it will mean the 24-year-old will be reunited with his director for The Woman In Black, James Watkins. No name has yet been linked to Ovett’s role.

The film will tell the story of Coe and Ovett’s competition in the run up to the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games but it has not yet been announced who will play Ovett.

World records
The rivalry between Ovett and Sebastian Coe is often seen as one of the greatest sporting rivalries as they dominated middle distance running, setting world records and amassing medals.

Coe – later to become chair of London 2012 – and Ovett first met on the track in their senior careers at the European Championships in 1978, a race that would set the scene for the battles to come.

Ovett finished second to East German Olaf Beyer, with Coe third. The pair, who had very different backgrounds, jostled for titles at championships and famously went head-to-head at the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

They snatched records from each other, and in one 10-day period in 1981 the world record for the mile bounced between them three times. Ovett, who struggled with injury, amassed one Olympic gold to Coe’s tally of two, one of which came from the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984.

British movie-makers previously struck gold when they tackled an earlier era of athletic prowess with Chariots Of Fire, which won four Oscars in 1981. The film, about British runners at the 1924 Olympics, won best film and best adapted screenplay for Colin Welland’s script.

The screenplay is to be based on the classic account of their rivalry, Pat Butcher’s The Perfect Distance. Filming is expected to begin in April.