Edmonton 2001 8th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Edmonton Welcomes the World.

July 9 2001

Edmonton 2001 8th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Edmonton Welcomes the World.

July 9 2001

Edmonton 2001 8th IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Edmonton Welcomes the World.

The people of Edmonton know all about big-time sporting events. After all, their city has hosted the Commonwealth Games, The World University Games, The World Figure Skating Championships and a handful of Grey Cups. And thanks to a guy named Wayne Gretzky, they have had their fair share of Stanley Cup celebrations. Nevertheless, even with this impressive resume, they are about to

0 i hop, skip and jump into uncharted territory. a*-.--»» I From August 3rd through to August 12th, Bi Edmonton will host the 8th International Ja»* Amateur Athletic Federation World Champion¿g ships in Athletics. It is the first time the prestigious track and field event has been held in North America and altogether more than 3,000 athletes, coaches and officials from more than 200 countries will be convening in the Alberta capital to compete in 24 men’s and 22 women’s athletic events. Recording the joy and drama will be an additional 2,500 members of the media. After the Summer Olympics and the World Cup of Soccer, the IAAF World Championships in Athletics is the largest sporting event in the world with four billion viewers expected to tune into the action over the 10-day event.

“It is an enormous undertaking,” admits Rick LeLacheur, President and CEO of the Edmonton 2001 Championships. “But I think we are up to the challenge.” The total budget for the event is $125 million, which will be underwritten by three levels of government, the event’s sponsors and suppliers and through ticket sales. The events will be held at Commonwealth Stadium, which has undergone a $22 million renovation. ^

An event of this magnitude would not be possible without an army of volunteers. Fortunately, one of Edmonton’s nicknames is ‘Volunteer City.’ In the very first week when the call went out for help, 7,000 forms were completed and returned. Altogether, 5,000 Edmontonians have volunteered to fill 140 different job descriptions, everything from stuffing envelopes and preparing food, to acting as interpreters and driving athletes and officials to and from events.

Another 4,500 volunteers, including a mass choir of 1,000 voices, have come forward to participate in what promises to be the most spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies ever held in Canada. Although the final plans for both ceremonies are going to be kept as a surprise, they will include dynamic dance and high profile production numbers. The fun will continue at The World’s™ Plaza, which will be located in the heart of downtown Edmonton at Churchill Square. The World’s™ will be a family oriented venue, a mix of free interactive exhibits, live entertainment and pin trading. Daily, on the 360o TELUS Stage, local and international entertainers will be performing throughout the day and evening. In addition, at the sprint cage, aspiring track stars will be able to lace up a new pair of Adidas running shoes and blast out of the blocks and down the 50-metre track. The Seiko Timer, the same kind used at Commonwealth Stadium, will flash out the times.

Although the last-minute details of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies are still under wraps, the news that the men’s marathon is being run in conjunction with the Opening Ceremony is already making headlines. Usually, this marquee event is held at the end of competition so the stands are only half filled when the runners enter the stadium and break for the finish line. This time though, just as the

Opening Ceremonies are winding down, the marathon frontrunners are scheduled to enter the stadium, with 40,000 fans leaping to their feet, cheering on the dash for gold.

The 42-km marathon route features 14 curves, smooth topography and stunning cityscapes. It kicks off at Commonwealth Stadium in the east end of Edmonton and then loops to the west side of the city before returning to the stadium. Along the way, it will run through suburban streets and urban parkland, a luscious stretch of river valley and past the continent’s largest shopping mall. It will even roll past the spectacular waterfall that flows off the high level bridge and into the North Saskatchewan River.

Moreno Bravo, a Technical Delegate for the IAAF, has inspected the course and is full of praise for the route. Bravo feels that the beautiful background may give the runners a psychological lift. “The marathon runners need their minds very, very clear on what they're doing,” said Bravo. “(Good scenery) helps very much. It’s fresh for the mind and body.”

Star Turns

When Marion Jones announced that her goal was to become the first female track athlete to win five gold medals at the Summer Olympics, nobody doubted that Jones would at least come close. After all, going into the Sydney Games, she

won every event she entered at the U.S.

Olympic Trials and earlier in her career had shown her prowess as an all-around athlete.

As a high school senior, she was named California Division I basketball player of the year and in her first year at college, she helped North Carolina State to an NCAA Basketball Championship. In the end, Jones still won three Olympic golds in the loom, 200m and 4x400m events and two bronzes in the long jump and 4Xioom. Throughout the Games, she also captured hearts and headlines with her ready smile and graciousness. The 25 year old, who now lives in Apex, N.C., made the trip to Edmonton at the end of May to check out the city and the facilities. She gave both places a big thumbs up and is looking forward to going for gold in Canada.

The tag of ‘world’s fastest man’ traditionally goes to the runner who is the current world record holder in the 100metre dash. It is one of the most sought-after titles in all of sports and past holders include Canadians Percy Williams, Harry Jerome and Donovan Bailey. The current king is American Maurice Greene who has slashed the dash to an amazing 9.79 seconds. Greene is also the proud owner of two gold medals from the Sydney Olympics and is a two-time

World 100 metre champion. To prove that he’s not all about brawn, Greene recently appeared on the hit game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire where he won $125,000, half of which he donated to the United Negro College Fund. Greene joined Marion Jones on her recent scouting trip to Edmonton and he too was very pleased with what he saw.

Over the last quarter century, on the men’s side, the Kenyans have dominated almost every distance from the 1,500 metres to the marathon. However, in Edmonton, one of their main challenges will come from Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco. The charismatic El Guerrouj holds the world records in both the mile and the 1,500 metres, and earlier this year, ran a spectacular 3:49.92 in Oregon, the fastest outdoor mile ever recorded in the United States. Despite the records, the Moroccan, who is a national hero at home - the equivalent of Wayne Gretzky in Canada - feels like he has amends to make to his countrymen. In 1996, at the Atlanta Olympics, El Guerrouj fell in the finals of the 1,500 and missed the medals. At the 2000 Games in Sydney, the Moroccan star finished second to Kenya’s Noah Ngeny but the pressure to win gold was so strong that a distraught El Guerrouj went on television and apologized to all of Morocco for his silver medal performance.

The whiz kid to watch for at these Championships is Alan Webb, an 18-year-old high school senior from Reston, Va., who, over the last six months, has smashed some of the oldest records in American track. In January, at the New Balance Games, Webb reeled off a 3:59.86, becoming the first high school miler ever to go sub-four indoors. Five months later, he lined up with an international field of world-class runners at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., and astonished the crowd with a final lap kick of 55.3 seconds and a final time of 3:53.43. His time eclipsed Jim Ryun’s 36-year-old high school record by almost two seconds and it was the fastest mile by any American since 1998. After his run in Oregon, Webb stayed behind and signed autographs for two hours. Look for him to engender the same kind of enthusiasm in Edmonton.

Canada too has a number of stars that are set to shine in Edmonton. High jumper Mark Boswell is one of the country’s most accomplished athletes in any sport. In 1996, he became the only Canadian to ever win a gold medal at the World Junior Championships and in 1999, he took gold again at the Pan American Games. In that same year at the World Championships in Seville, Spain, Boswell established a new Canadian record of 2.35 metres and won the silver medal. He was just as impressive during his college days in the United States where he captured 19 consecutive high jump titles and four consecutive NCAA championships. Ironically, when Boswell was growing up in Jamaica, high jump was the one event he was reluctant to attempt because his school had no landing mats.

Another Canadian who showed tremendous potential as a junior athlete is 1,500-metre runner Kevin Sullivan. In 1992, the Brantford, Ont., native earned a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea. Two years later, he was the No. 1 ranked junior miler in the world and was a silver medallist at the Commonwealth Games. Sullivan, who has recently graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, proved that he belonged with the big boys by finishing fifth in the 1,500 metres at the Sydney Olympics. Earlier this year, he reinforced his reputation as one of the world's top milers by clocking a sensational 3:51.82 and finishing second in a race to Hicham El Guerrouj. In the fall, Sullivan will help coach a University of Michigan track team that will include teen sensation Alan Webb.

TICKET SALES FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Pick a Package

Ticket sales for the World Championships have been brisk, however, there are still some single seats and packages available. According to Rick LeLacheur, the Edmonton organizers had two major aims when scheduling the events and planning the ticket packages. “We had a goal of making this affordable for anyone who wants to see it. We think we’ve done that,” he says. They have also balanced the events so that the world’s best athletes will be competing in finals for gold medals on every single day of the competition. The team from Edmonton was also able to get the IAAF to make the 4x100m relay the last race run at the Championships. “Donovan Bailey has announced his retirement for later this year and we wanted to give him and the rest of the relay team a chance to finish off the Championships on a high note,” says LeLacheur.

The ticket packages include: The 10Day SUPER Pack, which features guar-

anteed seating, spans the pageantry of the Opening Ceremony, the celebration of the Closing Ceremony and every moment in between. ($240 to $680) The 6-Day LAUNCH Pack encompasses the Opening Ceremony and afternoon and evening sessions on days 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7, plus the morning sessions on days 2, 4 and 5. This package also allows you to purchase a ticket for the men's 100-metre final in the afternoon of day 3. ($140 to $435) The 3-Day FINALE Pack includes the Closing Ceremony celebration and spans days 8, 9 and 10 of the competition. This package also allows you the opportunity to buy a ticket for the men’s 100-metre final. ($90 to $245)

It is important to note that all of the prices include all fees and taxes and complimentary use of the Edmonton Transit System to and from Commonwealth Stadium. The range of prices in the packages are based on location of seating within Commonwealth Stadium. For more infor-

mation about the World’s™, including how to purchase tickets, log on to www.2001.edmonton.com and click on Ticket packages, pricing & seating map. Click through to competition timetable for a detailed schedule of events. To purchase tickets over the phone, contact Ticketmaster at 1-877-240-2001.

Fans planning to visit Edmonton for the World Championships in Athletics will have no difficulty in booking accommodations during the 10-day event. The local organizing committee has contracted Advance Group in Vancouver to handle all hotel bookings. They can be reached by e-mail at: housing@advance-group.com