IAAF Communications Director Nick Davies, IAAF General Secretary Pierre Weiss, IAAF President Lamine Diack, Mayor of the City of Debrecen, LOC President Lajos Kósa (© Zsolt Czegledi)
As occurs the day before every IAAF World Athletics Series event, an IAAF Press Conference was held at noon today to officially launch the inaugural IAAF World Road Running Championships which are being held tomorrow morning, Sunday 8 October.
Hosting the conference was IAAF President Lamine Diack, who was joined by IAAF General Secretary Pierre Weiss, the Mayor of the City of Debrecen and LOC President Lajos Kósa, and LOC Executive President Mihály Orendi.
Lamine Diack -
It gives me great pleasure to be with you today on the occasion of the first edition of the IAAF World Road Running Championships.
I would like to thank Hungary for its willingness host of major international athletics competitions. I can still remember the 2004 edition of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest which was one of the best ever. I am delighted to see that this policy continues, with the Hungarian federation continuing to bid with enthusiasm, but also with the vital support of city and regional authorities as is the case here in Debrecen.
I am also pleased that some months after our former General Secretary Istvan Gyulai passed away, we are returning to his native country with an IAAF competition. I believe that he would be delighted to know that we are in Hungary again, and I congratulate the city of Debrecen for deciding to name its athletics stadium after Istvan Gyulai. This is a worthy tribute for a man who is sadly missed and who gave so much to the sport of athletics.
But returning to Debrecen, I am confident that we will have great spectator support for the competition because this city has a great reputation for organising road running and other sports events, and that our athletes will get the most enthusiastic support possible around the course.
This weekend’s competition is the final IAAF World Athletics Series competition of 2006. It has been a long year – but an exciting one – and I believe it is a good opportunity to stop and remember what has made our sport stand out this year. Ever since the beginning of the year, when we had a sold out stadium in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games athletics and a super edition of the World Indoor Championships in Moscow, our competition system has been a real promotion of athletics.
The new IAAF World Athletics Tour and World Athletics Final and the IAAF Golden League have injected greater coherence into the competition structure. The last edition of the World Athletics Final, which took place in Stuttgart, for the first time, was a near sell-out and last week’s IAAF World Cup in Athens had more than 35,000 spectators on the first day, which is far more than any of the recent editions.
The IAAF is carrying out an ongoing reform of the international competition calendar and the structure of 1 day meetings, as part of the IAAF World Athletics Plan, and we fully expect to be able to deliver an even more coherent global athletics season that builds to an exciting and compelling climax. This can only be good for the fans, broadcasters, sponsors and for inspiring a new generation of young people to embrace our sport. As the IAAF approaches its centenary in 2012, it has never been better placed to drive forward the global development of athletics, ensuring a golden future characterised by growth, innovation and vibrancy.
This is why we are very pleased with this IAAF World Road Running Championships not only allows our elite road runners an important competition opportunity, but also give the IAAF a bridge into the world of the recreational runner, a community that has discovered running, and who have helped make the road running scene one of the most vibrant in our sport.
This competition remains popular not only with our member federations but also with elite athletes as it is the only event that allows road runners to become World Champions. We can certainly anticipate some exciting battles for honours here in Debrecen, with US$140,000 on offer in prize money from the IAAF for individuals, with US$30,000 for a win, and the first six in each race eligible for an award. Team awards worth US$105,000 are also on offer, starting with US$15,000 for the winner.
Thanks for your attention and I’d like to wish the organisers and athletes the best of luck on race day!