10 NOV 1999 General News

Funeral Oration Pronounced by Lamine Diack in Honour of Primo Nebiolo

Funeral Oration in Honour of Primo Nebiolo
Pronounced by Lamine Diack  - IAAF First Vice President and acting President

Dear Primo,

Forty years have passed – it was in fact in 1959 – but I am sure you have not forgotten those days. They were beautiful times, days filled with enthusiasm and joy because you had managed to reunite, in Turin, young people from all over the world, and it did not matter to you – in those times of deep divisions – where these people came from. Whether it be from the United States or the Soviet Union, from China or Africa.

Only one thing was important to you: that these were University athletes and that they would come together in peace and friendship. Do you remember Primo that I was one of those young people? It was there that we met on the occasion that would become the starting point of a great adventure. The great adventure that would become the FISU and the university sports movement that you oversaw with courage, fantasy and a firm hand.

But you were also in charge of another sports movement, which you governed with just as much vision, just as much courage and a similar wisdom, for world athletics.

And it is about this commitment – your commitment – and you have been our President for eighteen years now – that I wish to discuss with you, taking advantage of this moment of quiet, in this place where we are bound by our common love, for sport.

The growth of athletics has been beyond my wildest dreams. Of our little world, you have managed to create a world that resembles a universe: the Universe of Athletics.

Dear Primo, at this moment, there is not one little part of this universe that is not talking about you.

And so I ask myself, how did you manage to reunite South Africans and Swedes, Kenyans and Russians, Italians and New Zealanders, Americans and Chinese, Koreans and Japanese, Spaniards and Australians: to reunite all under one flag, that of the IAAF and in memory of your passionate duty?

You have left us with this magnificent union so that we may defend it, and today this is my undertaking, before everyone assembled here, on behalf of our world, which is as great as the universe.

I make this promise to you Primo: Athletics will remain strong and united, proud of having a President such as yourself, determined not to betray your ideas, ready to continue the route you have traced respecting the ideals of fraternity and equality for young people throughout the world.

Many of these young people – the champions you have recognised and the budding hopes of our sport – are here today to testify their affection and gratefulness to you. Affection and gratefulness for what you were able to achieve for them: you gave them the possibility to build, through a career in athletics, a brighter future.

Together – the champions you applauded and the budding hopes of our sport – we promise you Primo: the IAAF and Athletics will always be indebted to you.