By Nick Butler at the Main Media Centre in Nanjing

A coundown clock has been launched to mark one year to go until the World Athletics Championships ©IAAFA major milestone ahead of the Beijing 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships took place today with a "One Year to Go" ceremony next to the Bird's Nest Stadium in which the action will be held.

With so much attention focused here on the Summer Youth Olympic Games, it was a reminder that the Chinese capital still remains the country's foremost marker on the global sporting radar. 

After performances from modern and classic Chinese dancers, the official mascot - Yaner the Swallow - was unveiled, before the switching on of a specially designed countdown clock.

Although based on a traditional Chinese stone sun dial, the clock seeks to reflects the dynamism and modernity of athletics, with many elements symbolising elements of the sport.

This includes a base composed of 10 competition height 110 metres hurdles, a five-coloured track placed on the base, a pointer stretching exactly 4.52m - the length of a pole vault pole - and a dial with a circumference of 8.95m, Mike Powell's long jump world record set at the Tokyo World Championships in 1991. 

Yaner the Swallow was unveiled today as the official mascot for next year's IAAF World Championships in Beijing during a special ceremony in the Chinese capital ©IAAFYaner the Swallow was unveiled today as the official mascot for next year's IAAF World Championships in Beijing during a special ceremony in the Chinese capital ©IAAF

Among those in attendance was Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, Minister of Sport Administration Bureau, Liu Peng, and China's Athens 2004 110m hurdles champion, Liu Xiang.

"We are ready and able to welcome the world of athletics again to Beijing," said the Mayor.

"We are excited not only about the barrier-breaking performances we can expect but about creating a new respect and affection for athletics among the people of China."

Also present was Senegal's IAAF President Lamine Diack, who will end a 16-year Presidential tenure by standing down at the IAAF Congress held before the Championships.

He welcomed the decision to return to the iconic Stadium in which the athletics competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games were held.

"Next year, Usain Bolt, along with other superstars of athletics such as David Rudisha, Sally-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kirani James, Sally Pearson, Renaud Lavillenie, Valerie Adams, Mo Farah, to name but a few, will compete again in Beijing," he said.

"The Chinese capital will witness great sport entertainment as the Bird's Nest again embraces the Olympics' number one sport.

"I have no doubt that Chinese athletics, like Usain Bolt in 2008, will come of age in 2015."

IAAF President Lamine Diack was among the speakers at the anniversary celebrations ©IAAFIAAF President Lamine Diack was among the speakers at the anniversary celebrations ©IAAF

As well as the ceremony itself, residents of Beijing will be able to contribute to the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 countdown through a weekend of activities throughout the city, sponsored and organised by the Beijing City Cultural Bureau to encourage sport and a healthy lifestyle.

The Games are due to begin in exactly 12 months' time, on August 22, and will last for nine days, concluding on August 30. 

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