LANANNA REACTS TO NEWS OF FOUR ETHIOPIANS MISSING FROM WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE, OREGON (27-Jul) — In his press conference wrapping up the 15th edition of the IAAF World Junior Championships, TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna was pleased with the overall success achieved here at historic Hayward Field. Speaking about the Eugene community and enthusiasm that filled the stands each morning and afternoon, Lananna smiled for nearly 15 minutes, answering question after question posed by reporters.
Midway through his media session, Lananna was questioned about the report that surfaced today concerning four Ethiopian athletes who have been reported as missing. First filed by OregonLive.com’s Wendy Owen, one boy and three girls from the East African country have been confirmed missing by University of Oregon officials and law enforcement agencies.
The news, which spread quickly through TrackTown USA, was on everyone’s minds as today’s track and field action began.
Responding to the inquiry, Lananna answered frankly after a brief moment of hesitation.
“You know, I don’t really know what happened. I’m going to kick that off to the IAAF and see what they, see what the federations [have to say]. I don’t really know what specifically happened. Our responsibilities as a local organizing committee is to organize the event, work with our federation –USA Track & Field– put all the pieces together, and then get them checked into their housing, have the competitions start on time, end on time, give them their medals, and get them back safely,” he said. “But all the other stuff around it, I don’t know anything about it.”
Some eight minutes later, Lananna was asked again about the case.
“We let the authorities and IAAF handle it. I don’t know how they handle a situation like that,” said Lananna, the former head track and field coach and assistant athletic director at the University of Oregon. “They haven’t shared anything with us. So, I don’t know whether to be concerned about it.”
Members of the media seeking comment from the International Association of Athletics Federations earlier today had been directed to the public authorities working on the case. According to Owen, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), City of Eugene police, and University of Oregon police are currently working on the missing persons investigation.
After Dawit Seyaum won 1500m gold on the Hayward Field oval this afternoon, she came through the media mixed zone with Ethiopian team doctor and translator Gemechis Mamo, as well as fellow teammate and silver medalist Gudaf Tsegay.
When asked about the four missing athletes, Mamo looked straight at members of the media and said a firm “No comment on that side.”
Following a few race specific questions, Race Results Weekly asked Seyaum and Tsegay if they were worried or sad about their fellow countryman and women. Not allowing the pair of athletes to speak, Mamo shook his head signalling he would not answer the question.
At these championships, Ethiopia won three gold medals and three silver medals, tying for third with Great Britain and Russia for total medals won.
Spanning six days, organizers reported that 51,523 spectators watched the IAAF World Junior Championships.