Sebastian Coe gets voice treatment after radio listener alert

Lord Sebastian Coe attending the BT Sport Industry Awards 2018 held at Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London.
Lord Sebastian Coe attending the BT Sport Industry Awards 2018 held at Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London.

Sebastian Coe has thanked a retired GP who got in touch about his “gravelly” voice after hearing the former double Olympic champion being interviewed on the radio.

Lord Coe, 64, who is president of World Athletics, was being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 just before Christmas.

The four-minute interview on the Today programme prompted a listener to get in touch.

The retired GP said she was “very concerned” as Coe’s “voice sounds very gravelly”.

She emailed to say that if “his voice has altered over any time, more than three to four weeks”, he should see his GP for a referral so a specialist can “look at his vocal cords, to make sure there are no significant or alarming changes”.

The email was passed on to Coe, who said he was “slightly perturbed”.

He told Thursday’s Today programme: “I’d finished an interview with you. And literally an hour or so later, you get alerted to the fact that somebody has picked up on something.

“It’s inevitable, your mind does start to wander a little.”

Consultant ENT surgeon Peter Valentine told the programme: “It was obvious when he walked into the room and spoke to me for the first time that he had an issue with his voice, in the sense that it was rough and gravelly.”

Sebastian Coe
Sebastian Coe (Mike Egerton/PA)

He examined Coe with a flexible optic fibre which is passed through the nasal passages to go to the back of the throat.

The exam revealed “nothing sinister” and Coe’s vocal cords were normal, the programme said.

But he underwent speech and language therapy “to help rehabilitate his voice use and improve his vocal care”.

Coe said: “It’s almost like being back in training because you’re sort of working on muscularity and all sorts of things, and learning to breathe properly and through your diaphragm.”

He said of the retired GP: “This was a great act of kindness. And I think there is a much broader and probably more underlying message and that is, if you do have any alarming symptoms about anything, don’t be stoic and brave and not say anything about it, but get them treated.”

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