IAAF's Sebastian Coe sees event as regional catalyst
“I know the whole of the city is very, very excited about the opportunity to see a global event,” said Coe, who is also the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2012 London Olympics.
“When I arrived in Daegu, I knew I’d arrived in a city that was staging a World Championships,” he said after watching a training session for athletes.
Coe said the event would be “very important” for the future of Korean athletics.
“The World Championships can inspire a new generation of young people to understand how important track and field is,” he said. “It’s very important that track and field is seen by young people as a very important sport to take up.”
He also suggested the IAAF should explore ways to integrate sports into young people’s lives.
“The physical skills and qualities of all sports find their base in track and field,” Coe said. “Hand-eye coordination, strength, endurance, power, speed. They’re all the physical skills of track and field. If we are to engage more fully with young people on the benefits of sport, we need to do so on platforms and in ways they easily relate to.”
Coe, a champion runner, won Olympic gold medals in the 1,500 meters in 1980 and 1984, and silver medals in the 800 meters at the same two Games.
He said big names such as Jamaicans Usain Bolt and his teammate and rival Asafa Powell would no doubt shine in Daegu, but he also expects to see some upsets.
“There will always be one or two athletes that none of us are thinking about at this moment, but will come through and perform very well,” Coe said.
“The other thing to remember is that it is tougher to win a medal in track and field than almost any other sport, because so many people do track and field, so many people run in the world, and there are so many countries doing it.”
He said the middle-distance events - namely, the 800 meters and 1,500 meters - would be wide open this year.
“The nice thing about this championship is that there are no obvious favorites, either in the 800 meters or the 1,500 meters,” Coe said.
“An athlete like David Rudisha, a new world record holder in the 800 meters, is a fantastic talent, but he’s not that experienced in major championships. So I think these will be quite open championships.”
London has said it will try to host the World Championships in 2017, and Coe will formally submit the bid here this month.