Legendary track and field performers Paavo Nurmi, Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen and Emil Zatopek are among a dozen athletes being honoured here as the first recipients of a scheme to mark their deeds with commemorative plaques.
An International Association of Athletics Federations’ World Athletics Heritage Plaque - due to be designed through a public competition - will adorn locations closely associated with each recipient.
The creation of this award was officially announced by IAAF President Sebastian Coe as he addressed 150 guests at an IAAF Heritage Legends Reception.
The audience included representatives and family members of several deceased athletics legends including Nurmi, Owens, Blankers-Koen and Zatopek.
On stage, each family presented Coe with historic artefacts from their relatives’ famous careers that are being donated to the IAAF Heritage Collection.
These items included an Ohio State University running vest worn by Owens, Zatopek’s slightly threadbare woollen training jacket and one of his training caps, and a bronze bust of Nurmi that was presented to him in 1925 by an American millionaire admirer.
Coe commented: "On the same principle that London’s world-famous blue plaque scheme celebrates notable people who have lived and worked in the British capital, the IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque sets out to recognise an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of athletics.
"The IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, performances, cities, venues, landmarks and culture around the world."
The plaque can be awarded in five different and broad categories - city; competition; legend; landmark; culture.
"This new award offers us the flexibility to honour locations across our multi-layered global sport," said Coe.
In all, a dozen locations covering all six IAAF continental areas, directly associated with a dozen legends, were announced as the inaugural recipients of the IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque.
These include one for Nurmi atthe Paavot Nurmi Games and Stadium in Turku and another for Owens at Ferry Field at the University of Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, in 1935, the American set world records in the long jump, 220-yard dash and 220-yard low hurdles while tying the 100-yard dash all within 45 minutes on the same day.
Coe, commenting about the first locations, said: "There would be no point in us placing plaques on the wall of every Olympic stadium as, while they have been the scene of countless epic competitions at the pinnacle of our sports history, these are already well-known landmarks. Instead we are looking to highlight lesser known locations associated with equally outstanding performances.
"Many of the stadiums and tracks which we recognise today have already vanished and these plaques will be a permanent reminder of the incredible athletics deeds which took place at those locations."
For instance, Japan’s Chuhei Nambu is the only man ever to have held the world record in both horizontal jumps.
He set his long jump record in 1931 in the Meiji Jingu stadium which is now long since demolished.
Two stadiums have since been built on that spot as this is the site where the former National Stadium, which hosted the 1964 Olympic Games, stood, and which is now being redeveloped to accommodate the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium.
Coe concluded: "The launch of this award is an exciting day for our sport as we begin to link together the competitions, personalities and performances worldwide which have played an important role in athletics rich history. It is important for our sports future that we recognise that legacy."
Coe also opened a public competition to design the plaque and launched a dedicated plaque website section for the new award.