IAAF President Lamine Diack, TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna and USATF Chairman and President Stephanie Hightower spoke to the press ahead of the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014, which begin in Eugene on Tuesday (22).
“These are the 15th edition of the IAAF World Junior Championships. Most significantly, this is the first IAAF competition in the USA since the 1992 World Cross Country Championships in Boston,” said President Diack.
“It has been my dream to have an IAAF event in the USA. All through the time I have been president I have been desperate to have an event here.
“With the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland in 2016 and Eugene bidding for the 2019 World Championships, the World Junior Championships this week marks an important moment for the future of track and field in the USA, the most powerful athletics nation in the world.
“These championships are set to be one of the biggest ever (World Junior Championships), 167 IAAF Member Federations have entered. With a total of 1540 athletes - 829 men and 711 women – Eugene will be the largest ever age-group championship held outside Europe.
“But as exciting and inspiring as the next six days in Eugene will be, the World Juniors are not just about winning medals and setting personal bests. Young people today have many choices of recreation and athletics must reach out to the junior age group if we are to retain 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 all sports.
“Athletics helps build confidence to prepare young people for the challenges they will face in their life,” added President Diack.
Vin Lananna then took the stage to give the host city’s perspective on the championships.
“President Diack, thank you for your leadership in bringing the World Junior Championships to the United States of America.
“We’ve waited a long time to host these championships. Whether this is your first visit or you are returning, we expect you to have a fantastic time during the next six days of competition.
“We feel we offer a window to the future, with the world’s best athletes under the age of 20 from around the world.
“They will perform in front of some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in America. Hayward Field (the Championships stadium) has often been referred to as the Carnegie Hall of track and field, a place where special things happen and, because it is the first World Junior Championships held in the United States, we expect history to be made.
“History will be made not only by great performances but also fond memories,” commented Lananna.
“On behalf of USA Track and Field, our board of directors, out athletes and our coaches, it is our very great pleasure to join forces with TrackTown USA and host the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships,” added Hightower.
“Thanks to the collaboration between USATF, TrackTown USA and the United States Olympic Committee, we have made a concerted effort to ensure that USATF’s excellence as an international partner matches the excellence of our athletes on the track.
“The city of Eugene, the University of Oregon and the Oregon state government have all been critical in helping grow the sport of track and field in, and around, TrackTown; whether through hosting Olympic trials, the Prefontaine Classic (an IAAF Diamond League meeting), the NCAA Championships or this World Championships. Without their support, events like this could not happen in the United States.
“Under the direction of our board of directors, USATF’s ‘New Vision’ has focussed on building international relations within the sport and showing leadership off the track. We anticipate a spirited and excellent competition this week at Hayward Field.
“American athletes have been enjoying tremendous performances from our professionals, as recently as last weekend in Monaco, and we anticipate that our junior athletes will continue that legacy of excellence,” reflected Hightower.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF