British middle-distance great Sebastian Coe has a vision to showcase track and field on non-traditional stages.
“I want the sport to start being delivered in more creative ways, not always in the stadium. I want it to take to the streets, to shopping centres. It’s got to attract people that wouldn’t normally go into a stadium.”
Coe was speaking at a press conference at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, on Friday evening, shortly after arriving in the country. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) vice-president was on a short visit, to seek the support of the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) in his bid for the IAAF presidency.
Coe, a double Olympic 1,500 metres gold medallist, is running against another former Olympic champion, Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka for leadership of track and field’s world governing body. Bubka is also a vice-president of the IAAF. The election will be held in August in Beijing, China.
At Friday’s press conference, NAAA president Ephraim Serrette was non-committal on which of the candidates his organisation would back for the IAAF presidency.
“We welcome the visit of Seb to share with us his vision and how it could help Trinidad and Tobago as a federation,” said Serrette.
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed,” Coe quipped, in response.
Coe applauded enthusiastically when T&T’s first Olympic gold medallist, Hasely Crawford was introduced. Later, they shared a warm greeting.
“This is an extraordinary region of the world,” Coe told the local media. “You have delivered and developed and nurtured and coached some of the greatest athletes that have ever set foot on a track. And we need to make sure that the next generation of Haselys is there. And they won’t be, unless we deliver the sport in a different way.”
Coe declared that T&T would benefit if he succeeds Lamine Diack as IAAF president.
“I want to create a structure at headquarters that more closely reflects the demands of the federation. I know you’ve done some very interesting things here, particularly around throws, bringing in outside coaches to help you deliver the sport. We should be sitting alongside you doing that. I’m not always sure we are.
“Competition,” the former 800m world record holder continued, “is our shop window. Head-to-heads are what gets my kids up in the morning. They’ll get up at three or four o’clock in the morning to watch the final of the Australian Open if it’s Federer and Nadal. We need to get head-to-heads. We need to get the excitement that track and field can engender.”
T&T Olympic Committee (T&TOC) president Brian Lewis spoke highly of Coe during Friday’s press conference.
“He’s been credited with playing an influential role in the London 2012 Olympic Games, widely considered in the Olympic movement to be the best ever. And Lord Sebastian Coe, during the build-up to the London Games, always treated the small Olympic Committees, such as Trinidad and Tobago, fairly. His track record as someone who places the best interest of sport and the Olympic movement is well-established.”