The IAAF press conference on the eve of the IAAF World Youth Championships was held today (9) at the RSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Donetsk.
In attendance were IAAF President Lamine Diack, IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka, IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel, Russian Athletics Federation President Valentin Balakhnichev, Deputy Mayor of Donetsk Valentyn Laktionov and Ukrainian Athletics Federation President Ihor Hotsul.
Some of the highlights:
Lamine Diack –
“Donetsk 2013 is the eighth edition of the IAAF World Youth Championships. We are delighted that a significant record has already been broken, as more athletes than ever before will compete at these championships.
“In total 1518 athletes have entered. The previous best was two years ago in Lille, when 1322 athletes took part.
“The IAAF World Youth Championships are a wonderful success story which continues to grow. 1055 athletes took part in 1999 when the championships were first held, and with each edition their popularity increases.
“The IAAF World Youth Championships have witnessed the beginning of the careers of many great athletes such as Usain Bolt, Allyson Felix, Yelena Isinbayeva, Valerie Adams, and most recently Kirani James. The World Youth Championships are the breeding ground for future stars, offering athletes their first global championship experience of their young careers.
“But as exciting and inspiring as the next five days in Donetsk will be, the World Youth Championships are more important than just about winning medals and setting personal bests. Young people today have many choices of recreation, so athletics must reach out to this age group if we are to attract their interest and remain relevant.
“Our sport offers deep benefits to humanity in general. Athletics is the core sport which develops children in a rounded way and enables them to do well in almost any other physical activity. Athletics builds confidence which helps to prepare young people for the challenges throughout their life.
“The IAAF World Youth Championships are a core element in our School / Youth strategy. Along with IAAF Kids’ Athletics, the annual IAAF World Athletics Day and the establishment of the IAAF School/Youth Commission, these championships help underline the importance of athletics as a core element in every child’s education.
“Donetsk is the second of three IAAF World Athletics Series events this year. We began with the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz and the 2013 series will climax with the IAAF World Championships in Moscow from 10-18 August.
“This is the first year ever that Eastern Europe has a monopoly of the IAAF’s top competitions. It offers us a unique opportunity to develop our sport in this fast-growing economic region. Ukraine is an established athletics nation, with a proud tradition at World and Olympic level. The greatest example of that tradition is sat next to me here today, my friend and Council colleague Sergey Bubka.
“As well as Sergey I wish to thank the Ukrainian government, the city of Donetsk and the Ukrainian Athletics Federation for the warm welcome that our sport has been given. We look forward with confident anticipation to a successful championships.”
Sergey Bubka –
“It’s really a great pleasure for us to host the championships, and I’d like to thank the president for entrusting us with this championships. For our country and this region it’s so important. This is a very sporting region. In 1977 this stadium hosted the European Junior Championships and later it hosted Decathlon matches between the US and the Soviet Union.
“There has been great support by the prime minister and the minister of sports. We have excellent facilities, the best for athletics in the future. It will give the possibility for many young talents to start their careers in Donetsk and will increase the popularity and participation levels of athletics in Ukraine.
“Ukraine is a great sporting country, so undoubtedly major events should be held here. Young sportspeople have been integrated and talented child are involved. It will give the opportunity to popularise the sport in this country.”
Valentin Laktionov –
“I’d like to express gratitude to the IAAF and the Local Organising Committee for supporting us in Donetsk. We’ll see a record number of entries with 1518 athletes from 165 nations.
“The city has great sports facilities for track and field events. We have a training venue nearby and a nice stadium which will be used after the champs by 3000 children as part of healthy nation programme. Hopefully we will not only host future competitions, but the facilities will also be used by future inhabitants of Donetsk.”
Ihor Hotsul –
“For the Ukraine Athletics Federation it’s an honour to host the World Youth Championships in Donetsk. This is a major event from the point of view of the number of countries competing here. Ukraine has never hosted so many countries in any sporting event, which is why it’s a great honour and great responsibility.
“Much has been done to ensure this event will be a success. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the efforts of everyone involved.
“As for our team, Ukraine will be represented by 60 athletes. We have a strong team and we hope for a successful performance at this championship. So we hope for two successes – organisational success and sporting success.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF