Jamaica has become the latest country to publicly back Sebastian Coe’s campaign to become the new President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following a visit by the double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist to Kingston.
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Warren Blake promised they would vote for the Briton, who is standing against Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka to replace Lamine Diack, the Senegalese who is stepping down in August after 16 years as head of athletics’ world governing body.
“It will be remiss if I said he is not our [JAAA] favourite candidate, but we would like to hear from Mr Bubka as well,” Blake told local newspaper The Gleaner.
“The decision to support Coe was based on the fact that we support the pillars of his manifesto.
“As a Federation, as an organisation, we need to embrace change and to lead the change through innovation like the street festival and street athletics programmes [advanced by Coe].
“We have to take the athletics to the people, the IAAF has to lead in this regard and Coe intends to push along.
“Lord Coe sees the importance of giving more power to the Federations and, importantly, maximising the commercial growth and the exposure of track and field.
“We also need to build integrity and strengthen the anti-doping programme.
“Based on those concrete positions and the focus of Lord Coe’s vision for the sport, we feel comfortable in supporting his candidacy.”
Coe estimates that he has already travelled 200,000 kilometres on the campaign trail but Blake claimed his visit to Jamaica demonstrated he would support the smaller countries.
“Lord Coe’s visit shows that our efforts are not going unnoticed,” Blake told The Gleaner.
“It shows that he places significance on Jamaica and the region.
“For Jamaica, it’s important for us that the funding of track and field and the availability of high-level coaches in the different disciplines that we are not strong in is addressed.
“Other member Federations have trouble securing different levels of expertise and the IAAF needs to step up and offer more support in these areas.”
“We will be suggesting that and other things to him.”
It is the second public endosrement Coe has received following a trip last month to New Zealand.
“It’s very flattering and it’s a great honour to have Jamaica’s support,” Coe, the former chairman of London 2012 and currently vice-president of the IAAF, told The Gleaner.
“It is really important that Jamaica is seen to be playing a very senior role in track and field around the world.
“If you look at what you are doing in schools, your competitive structures, the way you are identifying talent, nurturing it, coaching it at a world-class level, there are a lot of things that we could learn.
“Jamaican track and field is a powerhouse.
“It’s probably the highest profile Federation and not only because of the nature of the athletes that you currently have.
“No athlete in my generation could come through the sport without recognising the seismic contributions that Jamaican track and field has made not only to the history of track and field in this region, but world history.”
Coe also promised a role for six-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt after he retired following the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.
“When Usain does decide to retire, our sport must maintain and figure out how he can go on making that impact, it’s really important,” said Coe after meeting Bolt.
“We have a strong ambassadorial programme but it’s very important that people like Usain that have made such a huge impact are encouraged to go on making that contribution.
“No sport that has a Usain Bolt can ever afford for him to suddenly become a stranger to the sport.”
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