Kalmadi to be challenged for head of Asian Athletics Association by Qatari

Saturday, 11 May 2013
By Mike Rowbottom in Doha

Dahlan al Hamad behind microphoneMay 11 - Dahlan al Hamad, President of the Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF), will seek to take over the Presidency of the Asian Athletics Association (AAA) this year from the disgraced Indian Suresh Kalmadi, in order to set in motion a series of profound reforms in the region.

Al Hamad, one of three vice-presidents in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) along with Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka, claimed the current Asian Federation did not have "the right product" to attract vital funding and sponsors.

Announcing his candidacy for the Presidency of the AAA, a position whose current occupant is facing corruption charges linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, for which was chairman of the Organising Committee, al Hamad said:. "In July we are going to have an election in the Asian Federation and the current President, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, is incumbent.

"With all the respect for him and his colleagues, I think there are a lot of things in Asia which we still do not utilise.

"And I think working in Asia, and working in the Asian Federation, I see a lot of opportunities that we can develop our sports and expand them.

"Because Asia is key player these days, not only on the money side, but on the population side, so in Asia I am talking about putting the right programme and the right competitions in I think we can change a lot in Asia, and that is my belief.

"That's one thing which encourage me to go forward because I see the opportunity is there, but we are not trying to bring that opportunity about through constructive planning and waiting, I think it's difficult.

"Because the whole of the Asian Federation, we talk about the marketing side, we see that sports, all the world is engaged in it.

"But we looked in the Asia Federation and we don't have even a single sport.

"And I believe that business people, they don't come to you unless you are really prepared and you have the right product or them.

"So we need to have the right product for them, the right programme, the right staff, and then businesses come.

"If we don't have that diversity, then no businesses come.

"The IAAF has many Asian sponsors.

"But the Asian Federation, the heart of Asia, is not sponsored by anybody.

"And why?

"Because we are not prepared.

"We don't have that final product to present.

"That's why we have to have it."

Suresh KalmadiSuresh Kalmadi has been at the head of Asian Athletics for 13 years but his reputation has been ruined by a series of corruption scandals linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games

Kalmadi has been President of the AAA since 2000 but there is growing discontent among the organisation's 45 members of his leadership, amid claims that they are being tainted by the corruption allegations he is facing, which included being held in prison for nine months before being bailed.

The election is due to take place at the AAA Congress in Chennai, India, on July 1.

A Brigadier General, al Hamad is assistant chief of staff in the Qatar Armed Forces.

He is currently senior vice-president of the AAA and a close ally of IAAF President Lamine Diack and Coe, who both attended the opening leg of the IAAF Diamond League series here last night.

Al Hamad plans to put development at the top of his agenda.

"The population of Asia, we have 50-60 per cent of the world's population," he said.

"But we don't have the programme of development.

"We have seen examples before of some of the stars in Asia.

"Look at China, Japan, now in Qatar.

"So there are good, talented people, but if you don't pitch them at the right time and develop them at the right time you just lose them.

"And we don't have that eye in the Asia Federation to see how to put the right programme in.

"This is my philosophy - that if there is a soil that can present to the world one star, then the soil can produce another.

Dahlan al Hamad (centre) with Sebastian Coe (left) and Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, at opening leg of the 2013 IAAF Diamond League in DohaDahlan al Hamad (centre) with Sebastian Coe (left) and Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, secretary general of the Qatar Olympic Committee, at the opening leg of the 2013 IAAF Diamond League in Doha

"But we don't have the right competitions, the right marketing with TV. 

"TV is a key player in all of the world.

"But TV will not come for a competition without seeing that there is good viewers, there is a good product.

"The priority would be to have at least a track in every country.

"Because you without a track you cannot train.

"We have some poor countries in Asia and we need someone to stand with them to give them that start.

"So that is something that I will present to the people - I've already put my strategy to the Federation and feel that they are keen to have that kind of change in Asia.

"The IAAF is helping, but also the IAAF is waiting us to have the right programme also."

Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom@insidethegames.biz
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