International Athletics Federation (IAAF) President, Sebastian Coe says that India has the capability to host big ticket track and field events and he would love to see the prestigious Diamond League Meeting being held in the country in near future.
Coe, who was in India early this year for his first visit to a member federation after taking over as IAAF chief, said that the athletics events of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games was a huge success and it showed that the country can host big international meets.
“Yes, India can host big events because India staged the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The athletics programme in the 2010 CWG was held in a world-class stadium and it was delivered in front of full houses virtually every session,” Coe said.
“I know it is possible. New Delhi also hosted the World Half Marathon Championships way back in 2004 and it was hugely successful. So, I am sure India is well capable of hosting big international events,” Coe said when his opinion was sought on India’s capability to hold IAAF events, including Diamond League Meetings.
“I want to see IAAF events coming to India. It’s important IAAF increases its global footprint, particularly for our big one-day athletics events (like Diamond League Meetings). Asia, including India, is an important market. That will be where our focus is. I would love to have a Diamond League event in India one day,” he added.
Explaining the requirements for an event of the scale of a Diamond League Meeting to take place, Coe said, “It depends on the ability (of a country) to pull off various things together. We need a clear criteria what constitutes a Diamond League event is. It could be about crowd, it could be about infrastructure, it could be about local partnership, it could be about broadcast.
“So, it is about pulling all these things together. We have two Diamond League Meetings in Asia — Shanghai and Qatar legs. We are having a new Diamond League event in Africa in Rabat (Morocco). Qatar has done very successfully so does Shanghai. So these (two) can be used as benchmarks,” said the 60-year-old Coe, a gold medallist in 1500m in both 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
Coe also revealed that the world athletics body will collaborate with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to start an ambitious coaching programme from next year to produce a large number of coaches by introducing IAAF certified Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 courses in the country.
India has severe shortage of IAAF certified coaches and the programme is sure to give a boost in producing world-class trainers in large numbers.
India has just around 30 coaches who have passed IAAF’s Level 1 course while there are just a couple of them who have passed IAAF Level 2 course.
“Coaching is absolutely crucial in terms of developing athletics. It’s really important India develops a framework of world class coaches. I think they (India) recognise that. The IAAF is helping India to introduce what we call Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 courses. India can develop their own pool of coaches, can start their journey from that lower level to elite level coaches,” Coe said.
“Also we are working on modules prepared by the IAAF with close collaboration with the SAI. We signed an MoU and our focus is around the Center of Excellence in New Delhi. The AFI led Adille Sumariwalla has been doing a good job in trying to gain attraction and interest for track and field events in India which has not always had the strongest foundations”.