President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lord Sebastian Coe, has backed the election of long distance running legend, Haile Gebrselassie, to lead the Ethiopia Athletics Federation (EAF) on Saturday.
Speaking to Citizen Digital from London on Friday, the world athletics governing body boss said victory for the holder of 27 world records in a glittering career has conformed to one of his four key pillars of reform where he intends to see the sport led by those who played a part in making it great worldwide.
“What federation anywhere in the world would not want somebody with the athletics credentials and someone who has gone on to achieve outside the sport? Who would not want that help, that expertise and that guidance within their federation?
“It is important for athletes to play a pivotal role in federations, a pivotal role in the IAAF and a pivotal role in our sport and yes, the more athletes we can get into the areas of administration, the better,” Coe who recently concluded his African tour in South Africa stated.
“Being a former competitor is not in itself enough but it does lend an athlete’s eye to so many decisions that have to be made that will affect the athletes. The more athletes we can get into positions of seniority in our sport, the better and that’s what my reforms are aimed at,” the IAAF President emphasised.
He rallied retired Kenyan athletics stars to aim for leadership positions in Athletics Kenya offering his rise to the IAAF top seat and that of former gold medal Olympian Thomas Bach to the leadership of the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
“We must make sure the people coming to our sport are the right people. Those who have spent many years supporting passionately the concept and philosophy of our sport, understanding their background and understanding the nature of conflict as well,” Coe underlined one of the pillars of reform he is driving aimed at seeing athletes take a more prominent role in the sport.
Haile was Born in Asella, Arsi Province deep in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region in 1973 and he rose to global prominence when he scooped the men 5000m and 10000m double at the 1992 World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea.
Nothing had prepared the world for what ensued as the man who was nicknamed ‘The Emperor’ went on to tear distance running barriers in a decorated career that lasted over two decades that established him as arguably the greatest distance runner of all time.
Haile won two Olympic 10000m gold medals, four outdoor world titles along with numerous big city marathons.
Haile led fellow athletes in a protest march to the EAF offices in Addis Ababa angered by the federation’s action of locking fellow distance running great Kenenisa Bekele out of Rio 2016 Olympics Games in June.
The EAF is currently chaired by Alebachew Nigussie and his deputy is Dr. Engineer Mesele Haile.