Max­imise Bolt ef­fect – Coe

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - An­dre Lowe Spe­cial Projects Ed­i­tor – Sports

IAAF PRES­I­DENT Se­bas­tian Coe un­der­lined the im­por­tance of Usain Bolt’s con­tin­ued in­volve­ment in in­ter­na­tional track and field after he re­tires and again pointed to Ja­maican ath­let­ics as a valu­able el­e­ment in the ef­forts to build a pos­i­tive global im­age for the sport. Coe, who is in the mid­dle of a cam­paign to re­form the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s gov­er­nance fol­low­ing mas­sive dop­ing and cor­rup­tion scan­dals, be­lieves that it is ex­tremely im­por­tant that the IAAF finds a way to make the most of the Ja­maican su­per­star’s in­ter­na­tional ap­peal in its drive to in­crease the reach of a sport that has strug­gled to keep pace with oth­ers where rev­enue and in­flu­ence are con­cerned. The IAAF boss spent some time with Bolt dur­ing last sum­mer’s Olympic Games, which was the ath­lete’s penul­ti­mate cham­pi­onships with next year’s World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don al­ready de­clared to be his last and gave an idea of what the con­ver­sa­tion was about.

“We had a very broad con­ver­sa­tion, very broad dis­cus­sion; I am the very last per­son who would want to usher Usain into re­tire­ment. He will de­cide at the right mo­ment, and we are de­lighted he is com­mit­ted to run in Lon­don; that’s a good po­si­tion to be in, but when Usain does de­cide it’s time to go off and do other things, it’s in­evitable he will have a lot of de­mands,” Coe told The Gleaner.

BUSY PORT­FO­LIO

“He (Bolt) is a hugely pop­u­lar global fig­ure and all sorts of or­gan­i­sa­tions, busi­nesses and third-sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions are go­ing to have his time, and I just want to make sure that some­one who has de­liv­ered so supremely well for our sport carves out a lit­tle bit of time in what is go­ing to be a busy port­fo­lio not to be lost to ath­let­ics.”

Coe was not pre­pared to go into de­tail on what Bolt’s role within or with the IAAF would look like but stressed that there is an un­der­stand­ing be­tween him­self and the nine-time Olympic gold medal win­ner.

“We have a work­ing propo­si­tion that when the right mo­ment comes, he can come and sit down and we can have a very good dis­cus­sion about what that role can look like, and I think it’s im­por­tant that we plan for the fu­ture. I would be crazy for our sport not to utilise the ex­pe­ri­ence and global sta­tus of a guy that not since Muham­mad Ali – only since Ali – some­one has grabbed such a global space; it’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence,” Coe added.

The Brit also sin­gled out the Ja­maican per­for­mance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a pos­i­tive point in a chal­leng­ing year for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“Rio was, in terms of per­for­mance for track and field, top draw, in large part, cour­tesy of Ja­maica, and I say that with mas­sive re­spect,” said Coe.

“As I have con­tin­u­ously said, we owe a great debt of grat­i­tude to Ja­maican track and field, it’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary story, and the coun­try re­mains one of the pow­er­houses of track and field. I am grate­ful for the ex­ploits of Usain Bolt and the other ex­tra­or­di­nary ath­letes. This is a huge bonus, a huge as­set (for the IAAF),” added Coe.

The Ja­maicans ended the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with 11 medals. With Bolt (100m, 200m), Elaine Thomp­son (women 100m, 200m), Omar McLeod (110m hur­dles), and the men’s 4x100m re­lay team min­ing gold.

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