David Rudisha, Daley Thompson and Blanka Vlasic at the World Athletics Championships (© Allsport / Getty Images)
David Rudisha, Daley Thompson and Blanka Vlasic have been announced as ambassadors of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, with one week to go until the 19th edition of the global showpiece in Hungary.
The global greats, who boast five World Athletics Championships titles between them, will be in Budapest for the championships that will be held over nine days from 19-27 August.
As the sport celebrates 40 years of the World Athletics Championships in 2023, the ambassadors will be joined by a number of other legends who will be in Budapest through various roles including as team leaders, coaches, broadcasters and reporters.
Thompson was there at the start. Competing at the inaugural World Athletics Championships in Helsinki in 1983, the British decathlon great overcame injury to win with 8666 points, adding the world title to his Olympic, European and Commonwealth Games triumphs. The following year, the multiple world record-breaker retained his Olympic title in Los Angeles.
“Both participating and winning medals at the World Championships is a major landmark in any athlete’s career,” said Thompson.
For Rudisha, becoming an ambassador for the event in Budapest is an opportunity to return to the stage on which he claimed two of his four global gold medals in the 800m.
In 2009 the Kenyan missed out on the World Championships final in Berlin but in 2010 he set two of his three world records and he carried that momentum through to Daegu 12 months later. With a commanding performance he took the world title in 1:43.91 and regained it in Beijing four years later, returning to the top after two injury-ridden years. That second world crown came after another world record run to gain Olympic gold in London, and he would retain the title in Rio.
“I am deeply honoured to be appointed as an ambassador for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 by World Athletics,” he said. “Congratulations to all the athletes who have made it to the World Championships this year. I take this opportunity to wish everyone a successful competition and I ask all the fans and athletes to uphold the spirit of sportsmanship during the event.”
Croatia’s Vlasic is also a two-time world champion, her high jump wins clinched in Osaka in 2007 and Berlin in 2009. In 2007 she cleared 2.05m and two years later, 2.04m. On both occasions she did her trademark dance to celebrate, and went on to attempt a world record.
“The sense of pride and accomplishment will stay with me forever, that’s for sure,” she said in an interview reflecting on her second world title win, when she became the second woman to claim back-to-back world crowns in the event.
Now this trio of stars will watch on as some of the world’s current best athletes descend on Hungary’s new National Athletics Centre seeking to emulate them as world champions. Vlasic’s 2009 victory was voted among the 40 greatest moments at the World Championships, as decided by fans, and there will be more in store when top-class action returns on 19 August.