Bermuda can benefit from successful World Championships in US, says Coe
Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, is convinced the World Athletics Championships in Oregon will play a key role in developing the sport as well as providing opportunities for athletes and administrators from smaller territories in the region, such as Bermuda.
Track and field’s marquee championship will take place in the United States from July 15 to 24 and will mark the first time that the event is being hosted by a nation that is not only the sport’s most successful, but one that represents the primary marketing space on the planet.
Coe pointed to the creation of additional high-tier competition and educational opportunities for regional stakeholders as direct benefits of the championship.
“We need to create in the region, more opportunities for athletes, particularly in the Caribbean to be competing in the US in meetings,” Coe told The Royal Gazette. “If we are going to build the sport, we need to build the sport so that those great Caribbean-based athletes have an opportunity to shine in their own area and eventually, building on the Continental Tour programme, into, and through the Caribbean is going to be really important as well.
“It’s not just about athletes, either, because one of the challenges that we have confronted and we think we have the answer to through our e-learning platforms is about using e-learning as a really good way of engaging or reaching out to more people that can join our sport.
“We have an ambition by the end 2023 to have 5,000 coaches and 3,000 administrators and support staff on to our e-learning platforms.”
The Diamond League and World Athletics Continental Tour represent the two highest levels for individual track meets in the world, with the North America, Central America and Caribbean area, which Bermuda falls under, accounting for five of the 29 meets across both series, all of which are staged in the US.
Coe noted that a successful World Championships will encourage a rise in international meetings across the region, providing more chances for athletes from countries like Bermuda to gain experience and greater earning potential.
“This is going to be a great championship,” he added. “They are going to be different championships, it’s not the biggest stadium that we’ve had, but it’s really important that we take our sport, where possible, into communities that really do understand track and field and Tracktown USA, Eugene, is certainly one of those.
“This is a really important community and we also recognise that this is the first time that the world outdoor championships has gotten to the US. Every sport wants to have a toehold in the United States.
“It’s still the biggest sports marketing environment in the world and it’s very, very important that we claw back some of that territory that we have lost.”
He also believes territories like Bermuda have an opportunity to make a strong impact in the sport off the track.
“It is inevitable in a sport of well over 200 federations that you have large, medium and small-size federations,” he said.
“You have some federations that take athletes to World Championships, you have some that have never taken athletes to World Championships.
“One of my objectives is to make sure that it doesn’t matter where you sit within the world athletics family as a member federation, and regardless of your size or the passion that there is, or the history that you have in your country for track and field, we’ve got to find a way of keeping everybody in the world athletics family knowing that they have a part to play.
He pointed to coaching and stakeholder education, increasing participation at the youth levels, and utilising the sport to tackle social and health issues as key examples.
Bermuda has won one medal at the World Championships, Brian Wellman’s triple jump silver in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Meanwhile, with Russia invading Ukraine over the past 24 hours, World Athletics, yesterday issued a statement noting that Coe had met with Ukrainian athletics boss and pole vaulting great Sergey Bubka, while condemning the attacks.
“World Athletics is appalled by developments in Ukraine and condemns the Russian military invasion,” the release said. “We continue to monitor the situation carefully, but there is no reason to believe this will affect plans for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22 or the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22. Should these circumstances change, we will notify all our stakeholders promptly.
“Please note that the Russian Athletics Federation has been suspended from World Athletics since 2015, due to doping violations, and therefore is not eligible to host World Athletics events or send teams to international championships.”