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General News preview of World Athletics Day

World Athletics Day 1999 - towards Sevilla 99

World Athletics Days 1999 towards Sevilla ‘99

27 April 1999 - Monte Carlo –With hundreds of thousands of youngsters expected to participate in 156 countries around the world, the IAAF 1999 World Athletics Days – Towards Sevilla 99 – will undoubtedly be the largest mass participation sports event in the world this year.

The continued success of World Athletics Day can be measured by the enormous increase in the number of participants per country. In the first year, 1996, countries averaged between 50 and 100 participants whereas in 1999 many countries are estimating more than 1000 entries in their competitions (BHU 2140; BLR 1100; BOL 1000; BRA 2000 etc). Certain Member Federations such as Australia, Cook Islands, and Democratic Republic of Congo have organised several competitions to cover their large territories and give their younger athletes nation-wide the opportunity to participate.

In the three previous editions, 24 youngsters - 2 boys and 2 girls from each of the IAAF’s six Continental Areas - have won a trip to a major international athletics event: the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; the 1997 World Championships in Athens and the 1998 IAAF World Cup in Johannesburg. This year, the venue is Sevilla and the youngsters, drawn from among the winners of events organised by each of the participating National Federations, will be invited to follow the whole of the Championships as guests of the IAAF.

The competition has proven to be a great stimulus for young athletes everywhere. Past winners have included Harmon Harmon (1998) and Rob McNabb (1997) from the Cook Islands. Rob Mc Nabb couldn’t accept the invitation in 1997: he was already representing his country in the Championships, aged just 19. Both athletes will be competing in this year’s Oceania series of Grand Prix meets.

1996 World Athletics Day winner Nathaniel Esprit (AHO) came fourth in the 100m final of the CAC Games in Venezuela on 16 August last year, clocking 10.49 and recorded 10.37 when he won his semi-final.

The names of the winners will be drawn during the meeting of the IAAF Council, which will be held in Seville on 19-20 May.

ENDS