European Athletics holds Youth Conference, by Alfons Juck, Notes by Larry Eder


The first part of solving a problem is to acknowledge it. EA held a conference in which 46 countries were represented, to discuss how to retain the interest of the next generation in our sport. This is critical for future growth...

EME NEWS (DEC 9, 2008)


DAKAR (SEN): IAAF president Lamine Diack gathered the leaders of Senegalese athletics on Sunday, calling for consensus ahead of the Senegalese federation General Assembly to be held on December 27. Unanimity broke down following the poor results of Senegalese athletes. Two sides are facing each other, one of them supporting reigning president Momar Mbaye, who is running for a new term while the other, gathered around former athletes is backing El Hadj Amadou Dia Ba, the 400m hurdles silver medallist at the 1988 Olympic Games and current director of the IAAF Regional Development Center based in Dakar, APS informs.


BUJUMBURA (BDI, 6 Dec): Rwandan runners distinguished themselves in neighbouring Burundi, winning three of the four races of Bujumbura's first Peace marathon. Sylvain Rukundo recorded the best performance of the day, claiming the half-marathon in 1:04:35, ahead of Jean-Baptiste Simuceka (1:05:10). Epiphanie Nyirabarame won the women's event in 1:20:40. Felix Ntirenganya won the marathon in 2:45:05, while the women's race was dominated by Emilie Cheptuya of Kenya in 3:01:30.


TOKYO (JPN): Japan media are informing that retired Sydney Olympic winner Naoko Takahashi will make a farewell run to pay tribute to her fans at the Nagoya International Women's Marathon in March next year, her management office said Monday. The 36-year-old Takahashi will run in the marathon as a general participant. „This is to show my deep appreciation to all the people who have supported and rooted for me. I want to reflect on my career as an athlete while taking each step firmly as I run." Takahashi will set up a camp in Kagoshima in February among other spots to prepare for the marathon.


BRUSSELS (BEL): Balkan countries are sending smaller teams to European Cross Country Championships this Sunday in Brussels. The only team are Slovenian junior boys (Blaz Grad, Rok Jovan, Peter Oblak and David Ropotar). Other Slovenians are senior Robert Kotnik, U23 runner Davor Gregorincic, two women seniors Daneja Grandovec, Petra Sink, U23 runner Lucija Krkoc and juniors Tina Bercic, Ajda Sitar and Maja Veselic. Croatia sends only two junior runners Matea Matosevic (girls) and Sven Spanic (boys). Serbia is stronger in senior races with Mirko Petrovic and Sonja Stolic along with junior boy Nemanja Cerovac and U23 Dusan Markesevic. Bulgaria is having only U23 male runner Dimcho Mitsov and senior woman Milka Mikhaylova. Albania has a sole representative the U23 male runner Ilir Kellezi.


MALMO (SWE): The new indoor meet in Sweden, the Malmo Indoor Gala planned for February 3, promotes on its website stars of the event. Mainly the best female Athlete in the world 2008, the Russian Pole Vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva. The multi world record holder will open her short indoor campaign here. Afterwards her next meet will be at Sergey Bubka´s Stars of Pole Vault in Donyetsk on Feb 14. Other two indoor appearances later in February are also planned. Isinbayeva started only once since 2004 the season so early, in 2007 at Millrose Games in New York. Croatian High Jump Star Blanka Vlasic will also compete, for her third meet of the season after Rijeka and Goteborg. Also remaining in Sweden after Goteborg on January 29 will be high hurdles Olympic winner and world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba. From the Swedish stars Carolina Kluft could not be missing for Long Jump.


DUSSELDORF (GER): Already two months prior to the „4th International Athletics PSD Bank Meeting Dusseldorf 2009" at the Arena Sportpark on February 13, Olympic hurdles champion Dayron Robles has already confirmed his participation at this EA Indoor Permit. Already at last year's event in the capital of North-Rhine Westphalia, the athlete from Cuba provided the sporting highlight when he missed Colin Jackson's indoor World record by a hair's breadth. Robles achieved the second best time ever when he clocked 7.33 seconds in the 60m hurdles event. Almost four months later, in Ostrava in the Czech Republic, Robles set a World outdoor record in the 110m hurdles, clocking 12,87 seconds. And to top the 2008 season, the 22-year-old then captured the Olympic gold medal in Beijing. Organisers are saying in a release. The schedule of Robles looks now interesting with already known five European meeting appearances (starting in Sweden - Goteborg and Malmo, continuing in Germany Dusseldorf and Karlsruhe and ending in Prague). Eurosport will broadcast live (20:00-23:00 hrs) on the competition day.


OTTAWA (CAN): Athletics Canada named today Alex Gardiner to the position of Head Coach / Technical Director of Athletics (Track & Field) Programs effective of as January 1st 2009. Gardiner, from Winnipeg, MB, was most recently employed by the Canadian Olympic Committee as Senior Technical Director of Olympic Programs. A coach with over 30 years of experience, Gardiner served as the General Manager of the National Sport Centre –

Winnipeg from 1997 to 2002 before assuming Athletics Canada's head coach and Chief Technical Officer duties. Gardiner has also served as an Athletics Canada executive, from 1994-1997 as Chief Executive Officer and Director of Technical Programs from 1992-1994. Athletics Canada informs in a release. Current head coach Les Gramantik will shift to the head coach position of the newly created track and field High Performance Training Centre based in Calgary.


MOSCOW (RUS): Warned high jumper Ivan Ukhov is back in serious training and wants to compete during the indoor season. Talented Russian athlete who is the holder of national indoor record with 239 cm made for headlines after his famous appearance at Athletissima in Lausanne early September. He was competing under alcohol influence (of course no heighted) and got an official warning for that behaviour from IAAF. But now he is in full training and looks to show during the indoor season his real qualities. He might start already early in January at local meets before continuing at the circuit in Europe.


LAUSANNE (SUI): November saw a cross over between the end of the road running season and the increase in the number of cross country races which made for a busy month. European Athletics is pleased to announce that athletes from 10 countries have been nominated for the European Athlete of the Month Award for November. The voting will close on Monday December 15 at 12 noon. The nominations are on the men side: Alemayehu Bezabeh, Andrew Ledwith, Sérgio Silva, Öystein Sylta, Rui Pedro Silva, Giorgio Calcaterra. On the women side Paula Radcliffe, Irina Timofeyeva, Susan Kuijken, Ana Dias, Anna Incerti, Nuta Olaru, Annemari Sandell-Hyvärinen, Ine^s Monteiro and Tatyana Zhirkova.


OSLO (NOR): More than 130 representatives from 46 European countries and five countries outside of Europe discussed youth athletics and ways the sport can attract and retain young people during the first European Athletics Youth Conference held in Oslo, Norway, from 5 to 7 December. EA informs. The conference, entitled 'Bringing Athletics to New Generations,' drew the largest number of participants ever for a European Athletics educational activity. In addition to the Europeans present, there were also participants from Jamaica, New Zealand, Singapore, Brazil and Surinam. „Our sport needs a more unified approach towards young people and it is important that European Athletics take a leading role," said Svein Arne Hansen, Vice President of European Athletics and President of Norges Fri-idrettsforbund-the Norwegian Athletics Federation, which hosted the conference. The main organisers European Athletics and the Norwegian federation, received additional support from the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) Regional Development Centre in Moscow. Among the strong line-up of featured speakers were representatives of the IAAF and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which recently renewed a 2006 Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation with European Athletics. The keynote address was given by Olympic and European gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe, who is also a Vice President of the IAAF and the the chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committee. Coe described changes in youth culture, using the experience of his own children as examples, and said it was critical the sport communicate with young people using new media. The eight guest speakers gave presentations on the three conference themes: Engagement & Retention, Talent Identification & Development and Towards a European Strategy for Youth Athletics.

Special thanks to Alfons Juck, EME News.

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