This was the post by Alfonz Juck on 20 June about Svein Arne Hansen’s death. It is thoughtful and heartfelt. I thought it would help give our readers a better understanding of the legacy of this fine man.
Svein Arne Hansen, photo by European Athletics
Svein Arne Hansen passed away
OSLO (NOR): European Athletics informed that its President Svein Arne Hansen has died at the age of 74 on Saturday. Svein Arne was European Athletics’ fifth president since the organisation’s inauguration in 1970, after being first elected in 2015 and then re-elected last year. He died in Oslo today after failing to recover from a serious cerebrovascular accident, commonly known as a stroke, that he suffered while at home during the evening of Sunday 15 March.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe: “Today I have lost one of my closest friends. We have known each other for 43 years. Sven gave me my first big international break in athletics at the Bislett Games in Oslo and provided me with the platform for two of my three world records in 41 days back in 1979. He was in the vanguard of globalising our sport and, along with Andreas Brugger in Zurich and Wilfred Meert in Brussels, was one of the three game changers in our sport. He brought a professionalism to our one-day meetings that is still the template today and crucially he had the political savvy to be able to do that and navigate the sport from an amateur era into becoming an open sport and then a professional sport when there was a real risk that fault lines between East and west Europe could have split the sport apart. But his loss today, alongside his much loved family, will be felt most acutely by generations of athletes whose aspirations he helped fulfil. Our deepest sympathies go to his family and the European Athletics family who today lost their hugely popular and effective president.”
European Athletics Interim President Dobromir Karamarinov: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Svein Arne today. He was a great leader, a visionary for our sport and a charismatic personality within the athletics family. He was much loved by all those who knew him well and above all he was a friend of the athletes. We have lost a great man. All my thoughts and wishes go to his family at this difficult time.”
European Athletics CEO Christian Milz: “The world of athletics and the European Athletics family has today lost an inspirational leader and a good friend. I had the honour and privilege to work with Svein Arne for a number of years prior to 2015, and since then as our President. He was always trying his best to promote the sport, and always with a smile on his face. We will all miss him. I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
Katerina Stefanidi Olympic winner in pole vault: “So sad to hear of the passing of president of @EuroAthletics Svein Arne Hansen. He was always so encouraging and supporting. I will always remember him smiling and joking around.”
OBITUARY: Svein Arne Hansen, born in May 1946, grew up in BygdÃ¸y, a peninsula to the west of Oslo. He took part in many sports during his youth and at the age of 17 he formed an ice hockey club. After graduating from university with a degree in mathematics, he qualified as a track and field referee and later became host of a sports programme at a local radio station. He also embarked on his sports administration career, starting out as a member of the Norwegian Athletics Federation Junior Committee between 1968 and 1972. On the eve of the 1972 Bislett Games, the meeting organiser was injured by a stray javelin. Hansen, who by that point had made his mark as a referee, was asked to stand in, and he continued to work as an assistant to the organiser for several years. It was around this same time that he turned to his other passion, stamp collecting, and he started his own stamp shop, SA Hansen SA. In 1985 he was promoted to the role of meeting director for the Bislett Games, a position he held for 24 years. He’d run the Bislett Games during the summer and would then work as a stamp dealer for the rest of the year. He sold the shop in the early 1990s but retained an office in a stamp shop until 2012. During his time as meeting director, the Bislett Games was part of the IAAF Grand Prix, Golden Four, and the Golden League. He was also a member of the IAAF Grand Prix Commission from 1985 to 1998, a member of the IAAF Golden League working group from 1997 to 2009, and was president of the Norwegian Athletics Federation from 2003 to 2015. After serving as president of EuroMeetings from 1998 to 2006, Hansen was elected vice president of European Athletics from 2007 to 2011 and was then elected president in 2015. He had been a World Athletics Council Member since 2015. During his tenure as president of European Athletics, Hansen never shied away from new ideas. The 2018 European Championships in Berlin, meanwhile, was a resounding success as was the inaugural match Europe vs USA in Minsk last year. Source World Athletics.
PERSONAL NOTE: I met him for first time when he came in 80-ties to famous Bratislava Meeting. At that time I was a young boy, sometimes worrying to ask something. He was for me the big man from Western World. He helped a lot the Bratislava event at that time. Later I started to travel to Bislett every year in different functions, did there my first ever TV live commentary in 1993. I always learned a lot at Bislett Games, for example to experience the famous strawberry party at Arne HaukvikÂ´s Garden. Later I started to be involved for many years as flash interviewer of the winners in the stadium. Svein showed a big trust and asked me to help also with moderation of press conferences when Strawberry Party moved to Oslo City Hall. Im for ever thankful for that huge experience. When he was planning the bid for the EA Presidency in 2015 he was open to listen to all stakeholders, to all who were involved in the sport, not only classical officials, but also media, agents, simply everybody. His vision and passion for the change was big example for many of us. I must thank him for many great opportunities and chances to be involved in the sport of athletics in different roles (presenter, commentator, commission member etc.). I missed him already since March when the stroke happened and wanted to discuss and analyse different angles of our sport. Unfortunately I will not have this chance anymore. He left huge legacy for all of us but we also feel now the empty space. His approach towards for example integrity questions was huge and incomparable in world of sports administrators. His good mood to tell jokes and stories was always very welcome and passionate. You wanted always be his guest at a dinner to hear some of those. We need now to continue in his vision, also the one which he called: Athletics to every phone and every home. Dear Svein, RIP!
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