By Mike Rowbottom

IAAF centenary_logoJanuary 7 - Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), believes the London 2012 Olympics will be the "perfect celebration" for the sport as the organisation celebrates its centenary this year.

"A sold-out 80,000 seat stadium and billions of TV viewers around the globe this summer will witness the heroes and heroines of our sport with all their talent and charisma," Diack said.

"The sporting masterpiece that will unfold in London 2012 will be the perfect celebration for a sport founded in the aftermath of the Stockholm [Olympic] Games 100 years earlier."

Planning for the IAAF centenary has been underway since February 2010, when a working group was set up and headed by Diack.

The founding nations who set up the organisation in Stockholm following the closing of the Olympic Games in the Swedish capital saw the need for a world governing authority, for a competition programme, for standardised technical equipment and for a list of official world records.

"The commemoration of that day, with the issuing of a special postage stamp in Monaco [where the IAAF are based], will be at the heart of a year-long series of events and initiatives to mark this historic moment for Athletics," said Diack.

"The World Athletics Gala on 24 November will be the centrepiece of a weekend of celebrations in Barcelona, but there will also be a Commemorative Book, a TV series and a Historic Exhibition, as well as many other activities, to help us mark the occasion in style.

"Like no other sport, our history has been entwined with that of the Olympic Games, and it is fitting that our Centenary year of 2012 will again see us take centre stage when the Games open in London."

The IAAF has opened its centenary celebrations by setting up a new section on its website.

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The dedicated section, entitled 100 Years of Athletics Excellence, contains a two-part history featuring outstanding achievements by the 17 member countries who founded the International Amateur Athletics Federation – the name was changed to its current one in 2001 - in Stockholm on July 17, 1912.

There is also an opportunity to access the document put together in August 2008 - The Beginning of the IAAF - a study of its background and foundation.

"We also very much look forward to the four IAAF World Athletics Series events which will take place in our Centenary year: the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk, the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona and the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna," said Diack.

"We will certainly engage all those involved in those events with the spirit of the Centenary, from the special centenary branding which will be present at all IAAF events in 2012, and formal social occasions events such as the IAAF Dinner in Istanbul which will witness the announcement of the first inductees to a new IAAF Hall of Fame.

"The IAAF Centenary year also marks the end of the current IAAF Athletics' World Plan which was devised in 2003 to position the sport of Athletics in the best possible situation to face the challenges of its second century.

"Our task remains to inspire young people around the world and give them the support and encouragement they need to become healthy of body and mind and also to be inspired to compete at club, national or international level.

"Our sport, at all levels of participation, offers a firm foundation of skills and values for living which are just as appropriate to youngsters in 2012 as they were to the youth of 1912.

"The IAAF Centenary is an occasion for Athletics to celebrate the past and present and look ahead to the next 100 years where we must strive to build an environmentally sustainable competition programme, to reinforce the importance of the mother of all sports, and to help motivate an increasingly sedentary global population.

"I am confident that the IAAF can secure these goals and as we begin our celebrations to mark this special anniversary I take this opportunity to offer everyone in the Athletics Family the very best wishes of the IAAF."

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