The first ever IAF Zepter Masterclass proved to be a resounding success. Helped by glorious sunshine - the weekend of activities in and around the Louis II Stadium in Monaco - unfolded without a hitch as the four athletic "Masters:" Sergey Bubka, Stephane Diagana, Merlene Ottey and Wilson Kipketer, showed all the perfectionism, professionalism and commitment that has helped them to reach the top as athletes.
Crown Prince Albert, who made a special visit to the stadium on Saturday (his 40th birthday) was visible impressed; "This Masterclass is a great idea and I am delighted that it has brought together young talented athletes from over 25 countries. But what particularly impresses me is how seriously the "Masters" are taking their roles. Most of them have not done this before, or at least not regularly, but it shows just how much these great stars are willing to pass on to the next generation."
The masters spent over four hours on Saturday and Sunday supervising practical training sessions with their young charges. New training drills were demonstrated, advice was given about individual technique, about how to cope with the stress of competition, about correct hydration and nutrition …
And the youngsters, many of whom were already champions of their disciplines, were eager to soak it all up.
Wilson Kipketer, the man who broke Sebastian Coe’s 16 year-old 800m world record last year, amazed his group by bringing out hurdles and demonstrating some bounding exercises usually done by sprinters. "Wilson was just perfect," said one of his group -Sweden’s Richard Pell. "He is such a simple and friendly guy, he showed us he is not at all spoiled by success. He helped me so much by stressing the importance of good technique - of running in an efficient way. When you watch how he runs it is just beautiful …"
As a seasoned observer pointed out: "This weekend proved one thing. Inside every great athlete there is a great coach waiting to get out…"
Further reports on the IAAF Zepter Masterclass and a photogallery will be published in the near future.
All photos copyright IAAF Media Department - reproduction subject to copyright mention and link to IAAF web site