African Postcards: LORD COE: "AFRICAN COUNTRIES HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF HOSTING THE WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIP IN FUTURE"

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AYODELE ODUMADE spoke with Lord Seb Coe on the opportunities for major events in Africa, and the loss of Usain Bolt in the sport, among other topics. Here is his column, which we call African Postcards.

Dida-Ayana-DibabaFL-WC17.JPGDida, Ayana, Dibaba, photo by PhotoRun.net

AFRICAN COUNTRIES HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF HOSTING THE WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIP IN FUTURE- LORD COE

BY AYODELE ODUMADE AT THE EXCEL CENTRE IN LONDON

Lord Coe has stated that there is the consideration and potential of an African Country hosting the World Athletics Championships one day in the future. The IAAF President was answering questions at an IAAF/LOC Press Conference of the upcoming World Athletics Championships. He was asked why an African Country had not hosted this competition up till now, despite other continents hosting it previously. He said:

" I think South Africa is an important destination for Athletics. I have had this conversation with the leadership of the CAA (Council of African Athletics). I have been on record on wanting to take more events to Africa. We have just come from Nairobi where they hosted a spectacular under -18 world Championships, where we had over 160,000 people over the last three sessions. I was there with Olivier (Gers) our CEO. We have had the World Cross Country Championships this year in Kampala, the Diamond League has had its second iteration in Morocco, in Rabat, so for a continent that has created an extraordinary chapter in our history and actually broadening away from the traditional middle distance and long distance, in field eventers and sprinters coming through, It is of course an important destination and I hope we find a way of doing that. South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, North Africa, Morocco, these all have potential."

Lord Coe also paid tribute to Usain Bolt who will run his last race at these World Championships. He said:

"I am sad that he is going. I am athletics fan taking my Athletics Federation hat off. The guy has been a sensation. He is connected in a way few in and out of their sport have connected. I cannot think of anyone who has connected in that way since Muhammad Ali. There is not discussion or conjecture; he is the best sprinter of all time." He went on further: The record books show that but I think what we are going to miss is not that it is unlikely that someone is going to win three Olympic titles in a row in the 100m, 200m and relay or a sack full of World titles or world records. It is just that the guy has a personality. When we sit here with stars that are packaged and won't even answer a question most of the time, he has a view, he has an opinion and he is very forthright about the future of our sport. That is what we are going to miss and what world athletes are going to have to duplicate. That is what we have to do working with federation to make sure they elevate stars of tomorrow that are extra ordinary competitors. He is an extra ordinary competitor but the sport goes on. If we had been sitting here 15 or 16 years ago we would probably have been having a similar conversation about the imminent retirement of Michael Johnson or Jose Marie Perec. Other athletes came through. Muhammad Ali retired and great boxers came through. They did not replace Ali but the sport did not suddenly die."

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