Sergey Bubka achieved 35 world records, six world titles and one Olympic gold in his glittering pole vault career, and now—30 years after his historic first six-metre vault—he aims for the top of the ruling body IAAF. But the 51-year-old Ukrainian faces a formidable challenger in Briton Sebastian Coe in the presidential election on Wednesday (August 19) at the IAAF Congress in Beijing. Bubka tells DPA in an email interview about his candidacy and his Vision 2025 reform plan which would also concern the flagship World Championships and the Diamond League.

You are running for IAAF President, with elections to be held in Beijing later in August. What motivates you to seek such a key role in international sport? It cannot be boredom…?
You’re right, it is certainly not boredom! My motivation to stand for the IAAF presidency comes from a desire to help the sport which has shaped my life, to build on its amazing heritage and become an even stronger force in the years ahead. I have a vision of the future in which athletics re-engages with young people and becomes even more powerful and attractive global sport. It is a future in which a new generation of stars enthralls spectators in packed stadiums and millions more around the world through media and which attracts the world’s biggest and best companies as sponsors. My motivation for becoming IAAF president is to make that vision a reality.

Athletics has been facing difficult times over the past years.  The worldwide image is not improving. What can you do to improve the situation?
We cannot hide away from the issues which are damaging the image of athletics. Doping is, of course, at the top of the list, and the fight against doping cheats to ensure that clean athletes are protected must continue with fresh energy. I stand for zero tolerance on doping and the harshest penalties that are available to us given existing legislation, natural justice and respect for human rights.

Reforms in athletics are overdue. Which particular areas can be improved and what are your specific goals to reach improvements in the long run?

If I am honoured to be elected President one of my first steps will be to launch Vision 2025, which will be the most comprehensive review ever undertaken into every aspect of athletics today. This will involve national federations, area associations, sponsors, broadcasters, other media—in fact every one of athletics stakeholder groups. The information and insight Vision 2025 produces will form the detailed strategy for reform and no stone will be left unturned.

One problem child is the Diamond League. The global series is maybe good for some athletes, but not thrilling for millions of fans.  A lack of transparency, the points system, the fragmented calendar, and many fans missing their idols. What are your first steps to improve the competition?
The Diamond League is one of the most successful series not only in athletics but among Olympic sports. We need a Diamond League which excites the media and the public not just in the host country of individual events but throughout the season and around the world.  You will remember that the Diamond League was itself an evolution of the Golden League, and the process of evolution must continue. I propose to rebrand the Diamond League to IAAF World Cup, launching the according changes to the meets’ calendar and points system.

The competition calendar of the IAAF World Championships has been under discussion for years. Demands: fewer days as the current nine, fewer finals in a shortened time, clearer views. Do you back these reforms?
The World Championships is a flagship event for our sport. It is an event where stars are created and legends are born. I support measures which will make the event a better experience for the athletes, spectators in the stadium and viewers worldwide. Our Vision 2025 review will examine potential changes to the format.  Our aim has to be to have the championships played out before packed stadia which provide the best possible backdrop for worldwide TV audiences.

What does IAAF Presidency mean personally for you?
Election as president of the IAAF would be the greatest honour imaginable. Athletics is at a crucial point and decisions taken and programmes adopted in the next few years will be critical to its long term future. That’s why I will be a full-time president. It is a vital role and deserves total commitment. I relish a challenge as much today as I did when I was competing and setting new records.  Becoming IAAF president is sure to change my life but you have to remember that athletics IS my life and always has been.

DPA/Dusseldorf

Sebastian Coe ran away from his rivals to win two Olympic 1,500 metres gold medals in the 1980s and now also hopes to come first on Wednesday when the new president of the ruling body IAAF is elected. The London 2012 Olympics chief organizer Coe is competing against former pole vault great Sergey Bubka at the ballot during the IAAF Congress in Beijing. Coe tells DPA in an email interview that if elected, he plans a comprehensive review of the athletics product and that athletics must react to a rapidly and profoundly changing world to remain competitive.

You are running for IAAF president, with elections to be held in Beijing later in August. What motivates you to seek such a key role in international sport? It cannot be boredom…?

For as long as I can remember, I have woken knowing that athletics, in some way, would shape my day. As a young boy, running was the thing that I loved beyond anything else and athletics has been at the centre of my life ever since. Throughout all my sporting roles one thing has remained constant. I have always put the interest of athletics first and this is why I have decided to offer myself for the position of president of the IAAF.

We have been facing difficult times in athletics over the past years. The worldwide image is not improving. What can you do to improve the situation?
We have to be honest with ourselves, athletics, like any sport, is now operating in a world experiencing rapid and profound change. Unless we embrace and respond to these changes together and with vision, the sport we love and serve faces an increasingly uncertain future. By being innovative and brave where we need to be, I am convinced that together we can grow our sport and with it the finances that flow into athletics.

Reforms in athletics are overdue. Which particular areas can be improved and what are your specific goals to reach improvements in the long run?
It is essential we take a hard look at the ‘product’ of athletics if we are to attract more young people into our sport and, ultimately, drive increased income and revenues. We should keep what works and make it better, while never sacrificing our proud heritage.  Our product is athletics but our business is entertainment. We must be ready to embrace change and take steps to improve those events and disciplines that are losing their appeal to modern spectators and viewers. If elected IAAF president, I would instigate a full review of the athletics ‘product’ that would embrace all these issues.

One problem child is the Diamond League. The global series is maybe good for some athletes, but not thrilling for millions of fans.  A lack of transparency, the points system, the fragmented calender, many fans missing their idols. What are your first steps to improve the competition?
A harmonised calendar is key to the promotion and marketing of athletics. Our review must look at how the formats and role of the Diamond League fits within the overall athletics calendar and how we can boost the quality of this competition to make each meeting much more like a Grand Slam as we see in sports like tennis. So our aim should be to give the calendar a narrative that has a start, middle and end that makes sense. The IAAF must use its power to ensure that the major events of the IAAF (whether championship or other one-day competitions) have the world’s best athletes competing in them.

The competition calender of the IAAF World Championships has been under discussion for years. Demands: fewer days as the current nine, fewer finals in a shortened time, clearer views. Do you back these reforms, and when could they be implemented? By 2017?

The IAAF World Athletic Series Renovation Workshop is in the process of reviewing all of these issues. In addition, as outlined in the 100 day plan, I will establish a World Athletics Calendar Reform and Sports Presentation Group to enhance athletics as a product.

What does IAAF Presidency mean personally for you?
Athletics has shaped me—from my earliest days as a competitive athlete
to my time as an IAAF vice-president and the chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been the foundation stone for all that I have achieved in life. So it would be an enormous privilege to serve the sport that has shaped me so deeply as its president.

FROM:  http://www.gulf-times.com/sport/192/details/451140/-one-post,-two-good-men

Sergey Bubka (right) and Sebastian Coe

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About The Author Derek Bouma

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