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David Trimble and John Hume meet IAAF President Primo Nebiolo

David Trimble and John Hume meet IAAF President Primo Nebiolo

BELFAST – Northern Ireland – A day before the start of the 27th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Belfast, IAAF President Dr Primo Nebiolo was received at the Parliament building in Stormont by David Trimble, First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and John Hume, leader of the SDLP party. The two leaders, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year in recognition of their crucial contribution to the Peace Process, took time out from their busy schedules to welcome Nebiolo. Mr Trimble and Mr Hume both spoke of their appreciation of the personal efforts of the IAAF President to bring the world championships to Belfast. "I am delighted that we will be hosting the biggest sports event of recent decades," said Trimble. "We will be welcoming close to 1000 athletes from over 70 countries as well as countless journalists and TV crews. The championships are a tremendous boost for the community of Northern Ireland, especially in recognition of what the people of Northern Ireland have achieved over the last few years. We are very grateful to the IAAF for giving us this opportunity"

Mr Hume said. "The world will see normality in our streets and the world will see that it strengthens the Peace Process."

Dr Nebiolo said he was extremely confident that the championships would be organised "magnificently in a peaceful and safe atmosphere" and stressed his deepest thanks to Mr Trimble and Mr Hume for agreeing to a meeting which was, he said: "an honour and a privilege and showed their attention to our sport and the great symbolism of the weekend’s events."

The IAAF President also underlined to Mr Trimble and Mr Hume the basic values of athletics and the goals the IAAF hoped to achieve by promoting the most important international sporting event staged in Northern Ireland. "This event shows the world – both sporting and non-sporting – that athletics can offer an example of friendship, understanding and REAL peace where the clouds of conflict have hovered for so long," concluded Dr Nebiolo.