Seb Coe’s Growth Plans: “We’ve got a sport, I think we’ve got to create a movement.”

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by LetsRun.com
February 26, 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 five days straight.

The third video which is 5:30 long, where Coe talks creating a movement, appears below. We’ve provided a transcript of some the day three highlights and they appear below the video.

Video by FilmNova Sport Production – filmnova.com.

Previous: Day 1: Seb Coe States His Case For The IAAF Presidency (Intro and Summary)
*Day 2: Seb Coe on Trust and Doping

Seb Coe On The Need To Create a Running and Fitness Movement:

“We’ve got a sport, I think we’ve got to create a movement. Now let me focus on running for just a few minutes… 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. I think we’ve got to be seen as the sport that caters from everyone from 9 to 90….

“I want (the average road racer) to feel that what he (or she) is doing is related to – however improbably that may appear on the surface – what Paula Radcliffe has done, what I have done, what Daley Thompson has done and what Usain Bolt has done and what Michael Johnson has done. We have got to create a movement and at the moment we have got this disconnect where lots and lots of people are running (but aren’t fans). We have got to figure out how to make this much more assimilable and meaningful (so) people feel a part of it – the whole sport track and field.

“That’s why I was so keen to get  the IAAF – the president and vice president – to witness the millionth finisher crossing the line at the Great North (Run last year). And I hope that now she (the millionth finisher) would feel a part of sport. I don’t think we’ve done anywhere near enough (of this type of stuff).”

Coe On Why The Sport Can’t Just Be About The Elite Athletes:

“(Now) we don’t want to ever be an inhibitor on ambition. I don’t want a child joining an athletics club to not think that they have the ability to get to a Montreal or Moscow or wherever those games (Olympics) are going to be, but it can’t just be about that. We know that if it was only about one or two people crossing the line (first) then on the day of the Great North Run you’d have 90 odd thousand people feeling, “Well I’ve failed today,” and only one happy person and we know that’s utter nonsense. There is more we can do to encourage people to be a part of that movement.

“And the other thing too is if you look at the health agenda now around the world – by 2030, half of the United States will be physically inactive, half of China, a third of the UK and a third of Brazil, that’s over a billion people. Now what sport is better placed to actually make a difference (with obesity) than athletics?”

Coe On How People Come Into The Sport From Different Directions:

“I do also think that you will encourage people into the sport from different directions. If you talk to (UK cycling coach) Dave Brailsford in cycling, he will tell you that there was no coincidence in the number of kids that suddenly took up BMX and mountain biking that then graduated into road and track (cycling) but so many of them came (into the sport) from different directions.

“I don’t think that any longer we can assume that the health and the wealth and vibrancy of our sport is going to be supported entirely and uniquely from people that join an athletics club with a view of being an elite athlete.”

Coe On The Need To Be More Open About How Much The Top Pros Make:

“I think 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 about pointing that actually if you get to Usain Bolt’s level or to (Haile) Gebrselassie’s or to (Bohdan) Bondarenko’s that yes you can actually make a good living from it. That’s not a moral maze I’ve been worried about stepping into. But I do think we have to be clear to young people and create a sport where that if they are good enough that they can earn very well to secure their future. It’s a sport that’s hard and careers are quite short – you’re only really an injury away from oblivion.”


Other Days:

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.”

Day 5 (Coming Saturday): On The Possibility Of The Sub-2 Hour Marathon


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