La Coruña, SpainThe IAAF Press Conference to open the 22nd IAAF World Race Walking Cup was held this afternoon at the Fundaciön Caixa Galicia, La Coruña, Spain, and was hosted by IAAF President Lamine Diack.
Here follows, President Diack’s opening address -
“It gives me great pleasure to be here in this beautiful setting on the occasion of the 22nd IAAF World Race Walking Cup."
"In 2006, with no World Championships in Athletics or Olympic Games titles to be contested, the World Race Walking Cup takes on an added significance, and will mark the conclusion of the 2006 IAAF Race Walking Challenge."
"The IAAF World Race Walking Cup has had an important role in the development of global athletics in advance of the establishment of the IAAF’s own World Championships in Athletics in 1983."
"Originally named ‘The Lugano Trophy’, the roots of the IAAF Race Walking Cup date right back to 1961, when a Swiss sports journalist, race walker and race organiser called Armando Libotte decided to make his event in Lugano the international highlight of the race walking calendar. His idea for a world team championship swiftly became one of the main competition highlights for male race walkers and in 1985, with more and more countries interested in competing, the competition was renamed as the “IAAF World Race Walking Cup”.
"With such a proud and long history the competition is more popular than ever and now offers three senior and two junior races on the road. I am very pleased to announce a record number of participants - 421 athletes (272 men/ 149 women) representing 59 IAAF Member Federations, will be taking part this weekend in La Coruña."
"In the men’s races, we even have the chance that Cup history will be carved out in both the 20km and 50km races, as Jefferson Perez of Ecuador and Russia’s Aleksey Voyevodin are aiming to do something very special by winning their third consecutive World Cup victories."
"Historically, Spain has been one of the world’s foremost nations in this special event, not only providing us with a number of great talents over the years, but also a number of world class competitions. In short, I would say that Spain is a country that appreciates and loves Race Walking."
"But Spain is also a country that loves athletics in all its forms, and under the enlightened governance of the Royal Spanish Athletics federation, has become a renowned organiser of world class athletics competitions. Indeed, Spain is perhaps the most experienced organisers of IAAF World Athletics Series competitions in recent decades, and I have every confidence that La Coruña will continue the good work of previous Spanish host cities like Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Amorebieta and Madrid."
"I am confident that the local Organising Committee in La Coruña, who have been organisers of a top meeting of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in recent years, will do all that they can to ensure that the facilities are ideal for the participants and fans who are likely to line the roads, and also to make the competition attractive for television viewers. I wish all those who are involved organising the IAAF Race Walking Cup in La Coruña, the best of luck as the countdown to the competition begins. I would now like to give the floor to my IAAF Council colleague Jose Maria Odriozola, president of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation. Thank you very much.”