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IAAF President Nebiolo pays tribute to Wilson Kipketer:"He is a legendary athlete"

IAAF President Dr Primo Nebiolo addressed a warm message of congratulations to Wilson Kipketer (DEN) at the closing ceremony of the 6th World Indoor Championships in Paris. "I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Wilson Kipketer who has these days - during the World Indoor Championships - stunned the public and performed beyond even our most optimistic expectations. He is a formidable champion and has earned his place among the "Athletics Legends" who have marked the history of Athletics."

Dr Nebiolo continued: "Wilson Kipketer, together with others such as Haile Gebrselassie, Hicham El Guerrouj, , Charles Austin, Stefka Kostadinova, Gail Devers, Iván Pedroso, Mary Slaney-Decker and Yekaterina Podkopayeva has made this a great world championships and a wonderful start to a year which will, without a doubt, be the Year of Athletics.

The idea of offering a financial reward, particularly to those breaking a world record, has demonstrated its importance. Indeed, Kipketer beat the world record in the 800m twice in three days ‘just to be on the safe side’. This is not an easy exploit in athletics.

This World Championships has seen other records, including the number of spectators and that of journalists present - over 700 representatives of the written press and television. The greatest TV coverage yet for this event was broadcast all around the world.

And so 1997 has started very well for Athletics and you are all invited to the World Cross Country Championships on 23 March, in Turin. For the first time ever, this event will take place in the heart of a city and, more precisely, in the magnificent setting of the Parco del Valentino: a record number of participating athletes from a record number of countries is already confirmed and this will ensure a very high standard of competition. This will be a great show and a marvellous celebration which, on the evening of 22 March will start with a major concert organised by the IAAF."

Confirmation of the very high standard of the 6th World Indoor Championships comes from the comparative statistics. The overall results, particularly for the men, are better than any previous edition. The progress in middle distance events (800m-1500m-3000m) is particularly significant for both men and women. Eight out of 14 of the men’s events improved on Barcelona ’95 and two more produced equal results. Of special importance for the women, the 4x400m world record of the Russian team and the world record equalising 4.40m pole vault of Stacy Dragina (USA).

The interest in the World Indoor Championships was sustained on the Internet, too. The IAAF official web site provided a real-time results service documented with commentary and photographs of the competitors. During the three days of the event, the site had more visitors than the whole of the preceding month.

ENDS Downloadable .PDF version of the original Press Release