IAAF aims to cash in on Bolt
Sunday | October 26, 2008
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (CMC):
THE INSIDETHEGAME. COM website has revealed that Usain Bolt’s stardom, which exploded during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, has prompted moves by track and field’s world governing body to expand its annual flagship series, the Golden League.
The website indicated that Bolt’s three world record wins in men’s 100 metres, 200m and 4x100m relay for Jamaica has convinced the IAAF that there is a massive appetite for the sport around the world.
“The biggest joy of Beijing was to see the confirmation of a new world star of sport in Usain Bolt, with his three gold medals and world records, in a sport like ours where world records have not become an everyday occurrence,” an IAAF spokesman told the website.
Style and panache
"Even better, Usain did so with style and panache - capturing the exuberance of youth and celebrating a new future for athletics.
“More than one million paying spectators were treated to world-class competition and great stories - proving that athletics is not just about world record performances, but also dramatic competition and human emotions - whether in glorious victory or bitter defeat.”
The IAAF spokesman acknowledged that to the vast majority of people around the world, athletics is the heart of the Olympics.
“They cannot imagine an Olympic Games without track and field athletics,” the spokesman said. "This gives us considerable leverage when it comes to creating programmes to promote and market the sport outside the Games - for example, at the various World Championships event and the World Athletic Tour.
“The challenge of Beijing is to use the global impact and popularity of Usain Bolt to connect with a younger demographic.”
The IAAF has undertaken a 12-month feasibility study to restructure the sport’s one-day meetings including the Golden League, whose main attraction is a US$1 million jackpot shared by athletes that win their events at all six meetings of the Golden League.
Under a proposal for a new multi million-dollar series, the sport could expand into uncharted areas, including Asia and the Middle East, and bankrolled by keen sponsors and private investors.
“This includes many existing Golden League and Super Grand Prix organisers, but also new venues as well,” the IAAF spokesman said.
"During our discussions with athletes and their managers, we have made it clear that there are considerable benefits for athletes in the new model, and not just increase prizemoney, but the image enhancement that will come from being associated with a more professional product that presents athletics in a way befitting its great potential.