IAAF CEO Jon Ridgeon in Doha (Getty Images) © Copyright
News Doha, Qatar

Details of revamped international calendar revealed at IAAF Convention

The IAAF’s chief executive Jon Ridgeon revealed further details of the revamped international competition calendar to Member Federations at the IAAF Convention in Doha on Thursday (26).

The Convention, organised around the theme ‘Growing World Athletics’, followed the conclusion of the biennial IAAF Congress and featured key officials as well as notable former athletes, including four-time world 100m hurdles champion Gail Devers and 2008 world indoor 800m champion Tamsyn Manou (Lewis).

Ridgeon closed the event by offering delegates a picture of how the federation is reshaping the competitive structure of the sport.

“We are looking to take much more control, with our member federations, over the global calendar,” Ridgeon said. “Every year we will be fixing regular dates for the World Athletics Series events and hopefully area championships.

“Beneath that, the next important dates will be your own national championships and trials. Once those are protected, the other one-day meetings, such as the Diamond League meetings, can be fitted around.

“From next year onwards, because the Diamond League is such an important shop window for our sport, we are going to work hard to make it even better than it is now – fast-paced, more entertaining, with one final rather than the current two; making broadcast windows shorter and sharper, and a more logical date spread across the year.

“Promotion and relegation will make sure the series is the best in world. And we will be enhancing the digital content to reach younger audiences.

“In a new development, we will make a big impact on the world of athletics by introducing a new series in pilot form in 2020 – the World Athletics Continental Tour – a collection of the best one-day meetings outside the Diamond League to give us even more opportunity to see more athletes, and for athletes to have more top-class competition.”

Ridgeon also pointed out that since the IAAF Congress of 2017 all eight of the World Athletics Series events had been successfully staged, and encouraged federations to come forward to host the next wave of events.

“Don’t think you have to be a really, big, big nation to stage one of these events. We want to stage these events in as many different countries as possible. Some require big budgets, some small.”

Gail Devers and Tamsyn Manou at the IAAF Convention Doha 2019 (Getty Images)Gail Devers and Tamsyn Manou at the IAAF Convention Doha 2019 (Getty Images) © Copyright


Devers and Manou offered another view of the future, speaking about life after sport for athletes and encouraging  the Member Federations to make the best use of athletes as a resource.

Devers said she made a smooth transition out of athletics after her retirement, but enjoyed passing on the skills she acquired as an athlete.

“I went back to school and got my teaching certificate,” she said. “Working with young kids was always a goal of mine that I put on the back burner. I came back after my athletics career and said, ‘I am going to rejuvenate myself’.

“You have to find a passion for something you want to do. It doesn’t have to be in athletics. But if you have been at that level, there are things that you have mentally. Sometimes you can speak to younger athletes to tell them what not to do, because you have done it the hard way.

But Manou, who now works as a TV sports presenter for Australia’s Seven Network, felt very differently about the experience and said she initially struggled to accept the end of her athletics career.

“You have to understand you are going to be upset when you leave a sport that is so much a part of your life for so long,” she said. “Some people want to stay involved, others want to get away, but then do a full circle and come back.

“But now I am able to watch the sport and really love it and not feel disappointment. It’s a great sport when you have the ability to represent your country. But when athletes come to the end of their career, you need to tell them that they are going to have a rough ride for a while.”

Manou appealed to federation delegates to be proactive about back stories involving their athletes before they came to major events such as World Championships or Olympics.

“So many athletes have such great stories, and once you get athletes’ personal stories connected with the outside world, you are going to have an even bigger fan base,” she said.

“It takes forever to find the story. If we could get delegates to find some of these stories and provide them to the IAAF or directly to broadcasters that would be amazing. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be about athletes who are going to win.”

Mike Rowbottom for IAAF