The IAAF Ambassadors press conference on Saturday (10) began with a question to Sebastian Coe about being back in Moscow, where his Olympic career as an athlete began in 1980.
“It seems like a different era, but it was a big moment in my career.
“This stadium defined what I did in my career, and afterwards as well. It was the start of a lifelong involvement in the Olympic movement.
“The Moscow Games were a terrific Games with many World records. It was a very difficult time politically as well but I believe it was the right thing to be here then.”
Asked how his Olympic experiences as an athlete had informed him in his role as chair of the London 2012 Olympic Games Organising Committee, Coe replied: “I’ve always thought that within an organising committee you need to have enough people who can see the Games through the eyes of an athlete.
“You have to know how things affect the athlete – the facilities, the warm-up facilities, the integration of services. Athletes spend more time training than competing and you need certainty in timing. You need the transport will get you to training on time, being able to set that time in your day.
“Your whole day needs to be based on certainty. It even goes back to being able to get out of bed at a particular time.
“I think that knowledge helped me as LOC chair. I said from the start that we were putting on the Games for the athletes and I believed that if the athletes went home happy, then I would be happy.”
What are his expectations of Moscow 2013?
“The year after an Olympics is always a big year. People can find it difficult to stay up and we have lost a few big names along the way (to Moscow). When I came out of the ’84 Games, my father (Peter Coe), who was my coach, described coaching me in 1985 as like treading on eggshells.
“We have many great athletes here, we have some very strong head-to-heads. I expect a strong Championships.”
On the impact Mo Farah might have on the British team: “In my era, our touchstone tended to be (400m hurdler) Kriss Akabusi. If he got a medal, it got us off to a good start.
“With a 3:28 for 1500 now in his skill-set, I think he could have nicked a medal here in that event. It is difficult to know how to tackle him.
“Mo is very confident. He’s in that mode, and it doesn’t last long in your career, where he doesn’t think he’s going to lose and his opponents think they’re not going to win: that doesn’t mean he won’t get a tough race, but he believes he can win.”
Dwight Phillips, four-time World champion in the men’s Long Jump and the defending champion, who is competing in his seventh IAAF World Championships, was asked about his chances.
“My expectation is always to represent my country to the best of my ability. In the past that has always been a gold medal, so I can’t imagine any other result. But this is definitely my last championships, after here it’s time to hang up the spikes. I will do a couple of meetings afterwards, but it’s my last year.
“Missing last year’s Olympic Games after I tore my Achilles tendon was devastating because I wanted to end there, but I wanted to go out on my own terms, not through injury, so I’m here.
“I’m very excited and motivated that I can go past Allen Johnson and Michael Johnson here. We all have four gold medals in our individual event. I can have five.”
“I love track and field. I’ve been doing it since I was eight years-old. Athletes like Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses inspired me and I hope I can inspire others to follow my footsteps.”
On his forthcoming competition: “I don’t worry about others. There are several in good form, Aleksandr Menkov, for example, but anyone can pop out that big jump. Although I’m not the favourite, in my own eyes I am.
“The level of the event has not been so good the past one-two years, but I was criticised early in my career for not jumping far and I elevated my marks over time. We’re in a transition period, we will see some big marks again soon.”
Len Johnson for the IAAF