Sebastian Coe, two-time Olympic gold medalist and 2012 London Olympics Chair, was elected president of the IAAF at its 48th Congress in Beijing today.
A narrower than expected victory of 115-92 over rival Sergey Bubka puts Coe in charge of a sport and a federation facing serious credibility issues due to a recent spate of negative publicity over performance enhancing drugs.
Coe takes over the reins from Senegal’s Lamine Diack, who completes a 16-year run in the position.
“We had two great candidates,” said TrackTown USA chief Vin Lananna in an interview with trackerati. “We’re excited about working with Seb. We had a great relationship with President Diack and so I feel like we’ll have a great shot to do something great for 2021 (when Eugene hosts the outdoor world championships), and I think Seb will be a great person to work with.”
Lananna, who will also serve as head coach of the 2016 US Olympic track and field team, expressed appreciation for the job Diack has done in challenging times.
“President Diack… is a great diplomat of the sport of athletics worldwide. He has navigated us through some difficult water. I think the organization is in great shape and I think he hands the baton off to a great leg.”
Coe is grateful for the “very, very firm foundation" Diack has left him. "He ceases to be our president on the 31st of August," Coe stated, "but he will always be our spiritual president. He will certainly be my spiritual president.”
“This, for me, is the pinnacle,” said a reflective Coe. “It is my sport, it is my passion and it’s the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.”
“Track and field is the #1 sport and I am absolutely delighted to be president of the #1 sport … It is my responsibility to make it stronger – and I will.”