February 24, 2015
Double Olympic gold and silver medalist, 11-time world record holder and 2012 London Olympic chairman Sebastian Coe is running to succeed Lamine Diack as the next head of the IAAF.
We’re honored that Coe has chosen LetsRun.com as the venue to make his case for the presidency to the US track and field and world (and mid-d and distance fans across the globe). Recently, Coe sat down for an interview with Brendan Foster, the 1972 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist and founder of Nova International, and talked about his vision for the sport moving forward. The interview, which has been broken up into five parts, is being released first on LetsRun.com. We’ll have one video for each of the next five days.
The day one video, which is both an introduction and summary as to why Coe thinks he would be a good leader of the IAAF, appears below. We’ve provided a transcript of the day one highlights and they appear below the video.
Video by FilmNova Sport Production – filmnova.com.
Seb Coe on why he’s running for the IAAF job:
“Although I had to think long and hard about (running for IAAF head), in essence, it was probably one of the easier decisions I’ve made….I do feel it’s something I really want to do and I like to I think can make a good contribution…If I’m in a position to shape the future of my sport, why on earth would I not want to do that?”
Seb Coe on why track and field is the greatest sport, but a sport with challenges:
“I see a very, very strong, a really great sport. Those values have never altered…When you look up into the stadium at a global athletics championships, you’ve got 213 flags now. There’s not a sport in the world that has that universality (213 nations), that global reach. It’s tougher to get a medal in a track and field championship than any other sport…. But the sport has its challenges. I think we recognize that we’ve struggled, valiantly on occasions, but we have struggled to connect with the next generation. We are not being watched by as many people as we should be. Interestingly, if you do some research into this, it shows that track and field is everybody’s second favorite sport but not enough people are now following it as their #1 sport and we have to address that. Fundamentally, I think we have to address it by exciting and engaging young people both as spectators and participants.”
On whether the sport needs to get rid of events / How to grow the sport:
Coe: “I take great exception to people from outside our sport trying to redesign our sport because they don’t fundamentally understand the nature, the history and the philosophy of it. The important thing for us as a sport is to recognize that we have a greater challenge than any other sport as we are trying to meld many, many more disciplines…It’s not just one discipline. We have many of them and they are strong in (various) parts of the world. The skill here is to embrace all of those disciplines, but to give the wherewithal to member federations that have particular strengths and particular interests – like the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas which was a huge success – to give them the ability to stage those events and from the center, ie the IAAF, the headquarters, Monaco, to make sure that we do everything to encourage the sport, however it is viewed, to grow in those particular markets….
Ultimately, you are going to have create more events. You can’t just have a World Championships in isolation of the things that lead up to it. (You need to) leave the marketing and funding in place to make sure that when it (the World Championship) goes you aren’t just leaving people with memories of an event – that you have got some legacy funding to make sure that it goes forward – these are long-term journeys.”
On how to get young people into the sport:
Coe: “This is not a crisis. Our sport is not going to disappear in two or three years but I do think there are things we could be doing so much better and I think there are ways of engaging and encouraging young people – whether it’s being smarter with the way we use social media, whether it’s about being smarter about how we create youth athletics. I think the days of expecting an 11-year or 12-year old to suddenly be hooked on cross country or javelin throwing is over. Young people like to work in networks – they like team sports. I think we’ve got to bring (to) the early years of athletics much more of a team element. How about inter-schools competitions where instead of just having one person turning up at one o’clock and doing something for 35-seconds and waiting for three or four hours until their mates are finished at the end of the evening and then (spending) two hours on the coach (bus) home. Why not have teams where you have six or seven events, seven or eight on the team, and each member of that team has to choose 3 or 4 different things to do that afternoon and have a points total? I think there are lots of creative things we can do.”
On why he’d want to head the IAAF when he could possibly be the Mayor of London or the head of the BBC:
“For me, it’s really simple. Why wouldn’t I? It’s been my sport – it’s something I’ve now been doing since effectively the late 60s. If I’m in a position to shape the future of my sport, why on earth would I not want to do that?”
Day 1: Seb Coe States His Case For The IAAF Presidency (Intro & Summary)
“There’s not a sport in the world that has that universality (213 nations), that global reach (of athletics). It’s tougher to get a medal in a track and field championship than any other sport. But the sport has its challenges. I think we recognize that we’ve struggled, valiantly on occasions, but we have struggled to connect with the next generation…I take great exception to people from outside our sport trying to redesign our sport because they don’t fundamentally understand the nature, the history and the philosophy of it….If I’m in a position to shape the future of my sport, why on earth would I not want to do that?”
Day 2: Seb Coe On Why Trust In The Sport Is Critical/Why Drugs Must Be Eradicated “Fair play starts at the very top of the sport… The tone and style is set from the top… It’s absolutely vital that people believe in our sport….The spectators going into those stadiums have to go to know what they are watching is real…We have to open about this… I’ve always, always preferred to the face short-term embarrassment than the long-term genteel decline… This is not a war we can lose.”
Day 3: Seb Coe On Growing The Sport Commercially For The Athletes
“We’ve got a sport, I think we’ve got to create a movement…. There are millions of people around the globe that run. I don’t think enough of them see what they do as being related in any way with Usain Bolt does. I think we’ve got to create a running movement…What sport is better placed to actually make a difference (with obesity) than athletics?…We need to do more to explain the fee structure and income structure. I’ve never had a problem about appearance money. I think we should be really open about that. I don’t think we should be too coy or shy.”
Day 4: On Marketing The Sport Across 213 Member Federations – One Size Doesn’t Fit All Coe advocates moving money from Monaco to the member federations who know what works best locally. “We have to put the member federations in the best possible position to deliver the sport in the way they know there is a local interest….We’ve got to find the key drivers of growth for the sport and we’ve got to be able deliver that sport in a much more flexible way.”