I first knew of Ian Stewart, watching him run down the late Steve Prefontaine in the 1972 Olympics. At 14, this was the first Olympics that I understood. I then remember reading of Stewart in the 1975 World Cross country in Rabat, Morocco. TFN, the bible of the sport, kept me informed of his exploits for years after that.
During my tenure at Runners World, I had the privilege of meeting many of my sports heroes, it was not until the Nike Prefontaine around 2001, I believe, that I met Ian and got a chance to speak to him. I must admit he was refreshingly honest, and in my line of work, I do not find that often is the case. It was not until about 2005, however, that I had the honor of spending some time with him, observing him in his virtual office, athletics meetings in the UK.
Ian took me around his meets, answered my questions, and introduced me to his family. His family has always been very generous with their time, and I have even had a pint with his mother at Ian’s home club tavern, which was track geek heaven.
Ian Stewart is brash, at times, opinionated, always, but most of all, he absolutely loves his sport. He breathes his sport and does not take those he considers fools or enemies of the sport lightly. I find those attributes unusual in this day and age. I have found them in few others, although a certian Mr. Bedford does come to mind.
It is in the way Stewart shows respect to Jim Hogan, the 1966 European marathon champion that shows his true character. It is in the way that Stewart talks about coaching Karl Keska that shows his true character. And it is in the way Stewart speaks of his family, his friends and his city that one sees his character.
Ian Stewart is a man of some complication. His ability to manage and choreograph UK athletics meetings, has, in my mind, saved the sport, and also continued to make it a viable sports media property. One of the reasons Alan Pascoe has done so nicely in British sports circles is that Mr. Pascoe knows that his team, Ridgeon and Stewart, among others, is the best he could find, period.
That Mr. de Vos, CEO of UKA understands that, Mr. Commanee, UKA head coach, understands that, so Ian Stewart will have two jobs now. Suits him well, and suits the sport well.
His meet management skills are understood. The challenge will be for Ian Stewart to motivate and direct some talented young athletes to success in 2012. It may be his greatest challenge ever, but, in the end, Ian Stewart can handle it.
EME NEWS (DEC 17, 2008)
LAUSANNE (SUI): Olympic Golden Rings ceremony saw also winning films connected to athletics. This year, 27 films were presented to an international jury, chaired by IOC Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Gold, silver and bronze trophies were awarded in four categories. NBC Olympics won gold in The Best Olympic Feature with “The clock of their lives”. Eurosport won Best Athlete Profile for and inspiring story on Thai/German fencer Wiradech Kothny. Seven Network Australia collected gold for The Best Olympic Programme, while the Best Sports Coverage by the host broadcaster was awarded to its coverage of the sport of sailing. In the category best Olympic feature the silver went to German ZDF for â€žThe Drama of Liu Xiang”. In the Best athletesÂ´ profile again ZDF won silver for profile of Liu Xiang.
MINSK (BLR): In the jubilee 50th poll of magazine Sportivnaya Panorama Olympic hammer gold medalist Oksana Menkova was voted the Belarus Sports Personality of the Year. From track athletes decathloner Andrey Kravchenko was fourth and bronze winner in Shot Put Natalya Mikhnevich was seventh. Her husband and bronze winner Andrey Mikhnevich landed as 14th with another bronze winner Nadezhda Ostapchuk as 18th.
PARIS (FRA): Jamaican sprint king wins another trophy. Usain Bolt is The Champion of Champions by prestigious French media group LÂ´Ã‰quipe. In the poll he got 832 points clearly ahead of swimming hero Michael Phelps (694). No other track athlete achieved top ten position. Speaking to the sports daily he opened big possibilities for the future in his best event, the 200 m: â€žMy coach has told me that I have another two years of progress in front of me and that I have room for improvement. He thinks I can run in under 19 seconds and I have every confidence in him.” Last time a representative of our sport won the award was in 2004 by Hicham El Guerrouj and before that in 1997 by Sergey Bubka.
ATHENS (GRE): As hellenicathletes.com informs, Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou has decided to move forward with a multi-million dollar legal action against the International Olympic Committee and certain of its members, stemming from her being barred from competing at the Beijing Olympics last August. Lawsuits are supposed to be filed in three separate jurisdictions.
FORMIA (ITA): Russian Athlete of the Year 2008 and Pole Vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva already started her preparation for the coming indoor season in World Pole Vault Training Center in Formia, Italy. With her is there also Russian Olympian Dmitriy Starodubstev under the guidance of coach Vitaliy Petrov. Petrove believes after some training he can come close to six metres. But Isinbayeva and Starodubstev are training separately during the day so that Petrov can have his eye on both. â€žWe started little bit later, but all goes in normal mood. Physical preparation is currently on the programme. We are still not jumping with poles,” says Petrov. They will use Formia until end of the year and then the group will move to another Italian place in Aosta in north of the country. IsinbayevaÂ´s first meet is currently according to Petrov scheduled for Donyetsk on Feb 14 (Sergey BubkaÂ´s Stars of the Pole Vault).
LOS ANGELES (USA): Sports Businnes Journal lists top 50 most influential people in sport businnes for 2008. Nobody directly working in our sport made it. Connection is possible to find with President Nike Brand Charlie Denson who is number 14 and CEO of adidas Herbert Heiner as number 15. IOC President Jacques Rogge is number 30. Other connections with agencies or media and TV stations could be also found.
DUSSELDORF (GER): Legendary track journalist and writer Gustav Schwenk celebrates on Wednesday his 85th birthday. He is a keen observer of athletics since 1947. He attended as the only one journalists all Olympic Games in period 1952-2004. Happy Birthday!
LEVERKUSEN (GER): German 800 m runner Claudia Meier-Gesell became a mother. The boy was born on December 17 and his name is Jonathan. It happened just the day before her 32nd birthday. She achieved 1:58.34 at 800 m in 2000. She is since 2005 retired and competed at two Olympic Games (2000, 2004).
GLASGOW (GBR): The Herald brings an interesting piece in connection with our colleague and meet director of British events Ian Stewart. Quietly, un-noticed, an athletics revolution has occurred, writes The Herald. Ian Stewart, the Scot who won Commonwealth 5000 metres gold in 1970, has become one of the most powerful figures in world track and field. Meeting director of major events in Britain, he is leaving Fast Track, the company which promotes these, to head endurance performance with UK Athletics at the behest of the new UKA head coach, Charles van Commenee. But Stewart confirmed that he will be taking the meet director job with him when he moves in January. That’s how UKA chief executive Neils De Vos wants it. Stewart will answer to De Vos on events, and Van Commenee on performance. â€žThe most successful period for British athletics was when the same man did these two jobs,” said Stewart – when the late Andy Norman did it. He controlled the teams, warm weather camps, meetings and events, and races in Europe.
NAIROBI (KEN): African 800 m champion David Rudisha, will skip the indoor circuit as he seeks to make up for Olympics disappointment with a strong show at the Berlin World Championships. Kenyan media informs. May’s Doha Super Grand Prix in Qatar is expected to be his first race for the season.
HAARLEM (NED): Beijing Heptathlon 9th placer Jolanda Keizer of Netherlands was invited to compete in Pentathlon at European Indoor Championships in Torino. She was also voted the sports personality of her city Haarlem. For Torino multievents top 9 from 2008 lists are invited added by one home athlete. The rest to 15 will be invited according to the 2009 results. Only two athletes per country can compete in heptathlon and pentathlon.
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