Edmonton, CanadaOne of great names in the sport, the reigning Olympic 1500m and 5000m champion Hicham El Guerrouj, was present in Edmonton, but this time he was there not as a top competitor, but in a new role as representative of the IAAF Athletes' Commission.
With his face partially hidden under the hood of his rain cape, and alternating between taking notes diligently and capturing images on his digital camera, most spectators were not aware that there was a legend in their midst. "I was very happy to volunteer to take on this new role at a big competition," said Hicham, "as I believe it is very important to make sure that the interests of the athletes are made a top priority at IAAF competitions. I have been checking all the details of the competition from an athletes' point of view, and it is my job then to report back to my commission. I am very honoured to have this responsibility and of course I take it very seriously."
As for the standard of accommodation, transport, food and other logistics offered to competitors in Edmonton, the Moroccan star was extremely complimentary. "Really, I have to say that everything I have seen here has been excellent. I think the athletes really have been looked after well. Of course, I can't say the same about the weather. It really has been cold and that is a shame, but you can't blame the organisation for that!"
Although he relishes his new advisory role on the Athlete's Commission, Hicham is keen to point out that he has no plans to retire yet: "I am really motivated now to go back into hard training, as I want to win a gold medal at the World Indoors in Moscow next March. But even though I am going to carry on racing, I am happy to be able to contribute something to the sport via the Athletes' Commission. In the future, I want to be part of the new generation of athletics' officials."
Nick Davies IAAF