IAAF President Lamine Diack gave the following speech to the assembled dignitaries, local officials, sports personalities and media at the ‘one-year countdown ceremony’ in Beijing on Friday (22).
The ceremony marked 365 days to the start of the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
“It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the International Association of Athletics Federations to join you at this significant moment on the road to the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015,” said President Diack.
“Today marks exactly one year to go to the start of the championships, which take place from 22 to 30 August 2015.
“In recent months our Coordination Commission and Technical Delegates have made site visits to Beijing to assist and access the planning process. Most recently a progress report was delivered by the Local Organising Committee to the IAAF Council which was meeting in Eugene, USA, ahead of the IAAF World Junior Championships.
“Today, we are here to witness the unveiling of a large countdown clock.
“The location for the clock next to the National Stadium, better known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’ could not be more appropriate.
“The IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 will be hosted in this stadium, which was the venue for the 2008 Olympic Games and which is the setting for the annual IAAF World Challenge meeting.
“We remember so well the marvellous Olympic Games in Beijing which saw the crowning of one of the greatest sports stars of the modern age.
“Usain Bolt’s three Olympic titles, in the individual 100m and 200m and as the anchor of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team, were all set in spectacular world record times that astounded the world.
“The ‘Bird’s Nest’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’ will forever be associated together.
“Next year Bolt, along with other super stars of athletics such as David Rudisha, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kirani James, Sally Pearson, Renaud Lavillenie, Valerie Adams, Mo Farah to name but a few will compete again in Beijing. “The Chinese capital will witness great sport entertainment as the Bird’s Nest again embraces the Olympics’ number one sport.
“The IAAF World Championships will be the biggest sporting event on the planet in 2015, 2000 athletes from over 200 nations will assemble in Beijing in a year’s time for nine days of competition.
“The championships will be broadcast to an accumulated audience of six billion fans worldwide.
“The magnitude of the task of organising championships of this size is, of course, enormous but with a year to go I am confident that the IAAF and the Local Organising Committee, together with our Official IAAF Partners, suppliers and national partners, will be able to deliver a spectacular edition of the championships.
“Chinese athletics, like Usain Bolt in 2008, will come of age in 2015. China is the emerging super power of athletics; since becoming a member of the IAAF in 1978, the strength of athletics in this vast country of one billion people has steadily grown.
“From Zhu Jianhua’s high jump bronze in the 1983 Helsinki World Championships to Liu Xiang’s 110m hurdles gold at the 2004 Olympic Games, China has emerged as a leading athletics nation.
“The IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 will further inspire the youth of China and Asia to take part in athletics. This will be the greatest legacy of these championships.
“I personally look forward with great anticipation to returning to Beijing in a year’s time to witness the championships which will be my last as IAAF President.
“Thank you for your attention.”