Press Release29 Mar 2019

World Athletics Plaque design unveiled, six new locations announced


IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque design (© IAAF)

At tonight’s IAAF Dinner ahead of tomorrow’s IAAF/Mikkeller World Cross Country Championships Aarhus 2019, IAAF President Sebastian Coe announced the winner of the competition to design the IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque.

Coe also took the opportunity of an enjoyable evening in Aarhus City Hall to confirm the award of plaques to six more recipients whose historic contribution to athletics were recognised in the ‘competition’ category.

Brazilian winner

The winner of the public competition to design the plaque, which Coe opened when he launched the new award on 2 December 2018, is Fernando Silva, a 27-year-old resident and recreational runner from the Brazilian city of Manaus.

The main oval of the design represents the ‘global’ sport of athletics, while the gold colour of that ring represents ‘excellence’. The six bright modern colours surrounding the main gold oval stand for the ‘universality’ of athletics as represented by its six continental areas and the six core event groups: sprints, hurdles & relays; middle/long distance; combined events; jumping; throwing; ‘out of stadia’ (cross country, mountain, road, trial and ultra running and race walking).

Fernando Silva, winner of the IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque design contest


Entries from across four continents

Coe commented: “the concept of the World Athletics Heritage Plaque was very well received when we announced the project and the first dozen recipients in December. I’m delighted to confirm that the design competition attracted a high standard of entries across four continents. Now that we have a winner, we have moved an important step towards the first unveilings of plaques around the world in 2020.”

The plaque design will now undergo some further work ahead of manufacture at the end of the year.

Fernando Silva, who wins a trip for two to the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, commented: “I’m extremely proud and honoured that my design has been recognised and that it will be permanently displayed in athletics locations around the world.”

'The folklore of sport'

Six more plaque locations, all ‘out-of-stadia’ competitions, were confirmed by Coe, bringing the total number of recipients so far honoured to 18.


Appropriately, given the reason for tonight’s IAAF Dinner, three of the new plaque recipients are historic cross country competitions. The English Cross Country Championships (founded 1877) and the USA Cross Country Championships (1889) are two of the oldest national championships in the multi-terrain discipline and hold an aura which only comes from more than 100 years of running heritage. Italy’s annual Cinque Mulini (1933), an IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting, was also recognised for being an emblematic competition which over the decades has attracted many of the world’s best middle and long distance runners, including Coe. 

In terms of road running, no other marathon race has a longer continuous tradition in the world or represents such history as does the BAA Boston Marathon (1897).

The ‘Athens Marathon The Authentic’ (1972) might be a youngster by comparison to Boston, having only have been founded less than 50 years ago but, running on the original course from Marathon to Athens, its roots stretch back to Pheidippides’ famous run in 490BC.

When it comes to race walking, there are few competitions to match the stature and history of the meeting in La Coruna, Spain. The annual Gran Premio Cantones de La Coruña (1986), which hosted the IAAF World Cup in 2006, is a beacon of excellence and the oldest IAAF Race Walking Challenge meeting.

“Tonight, we have recognised competitions which rest at the very heart of the history of athletics,” said Coe. “These six races have over the decades caught the imagination of athletes and fans alike, for whom they are high up in the bucket list of athletics events which must be experienced. Some elements like Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill have become part of the folklore of world sport and have set these events apart as truly appropriate Heritage locations.”

List of plaques: