Ilkka Kanerva (© AFP / Getty Images)
World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that Ilkka Kanerva, a World Athletics Council Member from 2003-2011 and former President of the Finnish Athletics Association, died on Thursday (14) at the age of 74.
Kanerva, a former Finnish Foreign Minister, also served on the European Athletics Council from 1999 to 2003 and was President of the local organising committee for the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.
Born in Lokalahti in January 1948, Kanerva was leader of the political youth organisation Kokoomuksen Nuorten Liitto from 1972 to 1976 and was first elected to the Finnish Parliament in 1975. One of the longest standing members of parliament in Finland, Kanerva worked as Minister of Transportation and Communications from 1990 to 1991, and as Minister of Labour from 1991 to 1995.
Alongside his time in Finnish politics, Kanerva enjoyed a long and successful career in athletics. From 1981 to 1982 and from 1989 to 1990 he held the chair in Finnish Athletics' National Assembly. In 1990 Kanerva was named as the President of Finnish Athletics, a post he held for 15 consecutive years until the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, where he also worked as the president of local organising committee.
At the time of his death, Kanerva was Honorary President of Finnish Athletics and was Chairman of the organising committee of the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting.
A larger-than-life character who always believed in hard work and good planning, Kanerva lived and breathed athletics.