Donetsk to host 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships. Centre: Lamine Diack shakes hands with Borys Kolesnikov, that are flanked Sergey Bubka (l) and Ravil Safiullin (r) (Philippe Fitte) © Copyright
Fourteen years after the first version of this event - which was first held in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 1999 – this city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius River is confidently preparing for what one of Ukraine’s most famous sporting sons, Sergey Bubka, hopes will be "the first step" towards hosting the senior IAAF World Championships.
Speaking at the IAAF Council meeting in Monaco in November 2010 in which the World Youth Championships were awarded to his home city, the IAAF Vice President who still holds the World records both the outdoor and indoor Pole Vault, commented:
"For the last three to four years we have discussed the possibility of making a bid for a World Championships and the Vice-Prime Minister has always been very enthusiastic about this project," Bubka said. "The senior World Championships were the original goal and the staging of the World Youth Championships is the first step to that higher level and will be important in the general development of athletics in Ukraine."
Bubka’s own achievements are celebrated by a statue in Donetsk. He won six consecutive IAAF World titles between 1983 and 1997, took Olympic gold in 1988, and broke the World record 35 times, becoming the first man to clear 6.00 metres, and remaining the only man to have cleared 6.10m.
His outdoor World record stands at 6.14, set in Sestriere in 1994. But the greatest height ever vaulted remains the 6.15 he managed a year earlier – in Donetsk. That was one of three World indoor marks Bubka set in the annual Pole Vault Stars competition at Donetsk, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting.
Donetsk further enhanced its sporting reputation earlier this year when it was one of the main hosts at the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament jointly staged by Poland and the Ukraine, an event which triggered a huge transformation in the city’s transportation, with a new airport being built, as well as the public and sporting infrastructure.
The city’s 49,400 capacity Donbass Arena, opened on August 29, 2009, hosted three Group D matches, the quarter-final in which Spain beat France 2-0, and the semi-final in which Spain defeated Portugal 4-2 before going on to beat Italy 4-0 in the final held at Kiev.
Bubka added at the 2010 Council meeting that Donetsk had been "especially encouraged" to hold the World Youth Championships by the excellent results obtained by Ukraine at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games held earlier that year in Singapore.
Ukraine finished fourth in the medals table behind China, Russia and South Korea, earning nine gold medals – including two in athletics for Igor Lyashchenko in the 10,000m Race Walk and Kateryna Derun in the Javelin Throw - nine silver and 15 bronze.
Accompanying Bubka as he witnessed the awarding of these Championships to Ukraine was fellow countryman Valeriy Borzov, who won the Olympic 100 and 200m titles for the Soviet Union at the 1972 Games in Munich.
In his own message to the Council before the voting, Borzov recommended the case of Donetsk in the following manner: "For these young athletes it will be interesting to see and to know the city in which the legendary Sergey Bubka began his ascent."
Soon, those young athletes will have their chance to do just that.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF