IAAF President Lamine Diack spoke to the press ahead of the IAAF World Indoor Championships, which begins tomorrow (7) in the Polish city of Sopot.
There have already been numerous outstanding performances on the boards this year, but this weekend’s competition will provide the world’s best athletes with a chance to go above and beyond what they have achieved so far in 2014.
“The World Indoors is the climax to an outstanding indoor season and we expect excellent results over the next three days,” said Diack. “Sadly, world record-breaking pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie is injured, although he will be coming to Sopot as a spectator.
“But in the women’s 1500m we will have multiple world record-breaker Genzebe Dibaba as well as high jumper Ivan Ukhov, who just missed Javier Sotomayor’s world indoor record, and Ashton Eaton, who set one of the two world records in Istanbul 2012.
“I am confident that these stars, and the rest of the field, will be highly competitive.”
It will be the first time that Poland has hosted the event, but they have a long tradition of hosting IAAF events. In 1987 Warsaw staged the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, which Bydgoszcz later hosted in 2010 and 2013. Bydgoszcz also played host to the 1999 IAAF World Youth Championships and the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships.
“You have to have dreams, and our dream was to host the World Indoor Championships,” said LOC president and Sopot mayor Jacek Karnowski. “It was possible thanks to engaging the Polish government and athlete ambassadors.
“It’s a very important event for the city. Our athletes will also act as role models for our youth; these are good examples for them to follow. I hope there will be a great atmosphere, as there was recently for the Polish Championships at the same arena, where we had a record 11,000 spectators.”
The Ergo Arena is a physical symbol of the cooperation across what is known as the Tri-City region. The boundary between Sopot and Gdansk runs through the middle of the stadium.
“We’ve had some sports events, but this is by far the most prestigious,” said ERGO Arena president Magdalena Sekula. “It’s a very different but interesting event. We have changed the structure of the hall and raised the floor by three metres for the track.
“I’m very grateful and proud that this World Indoor Championships will take place in a very beautiful venue and I hope all the athletes will achieve their goals.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF