Athletics: IAAF wants big changes worldwide

The IAAF wants change and it will not be long before ''Joe Blow'' can compete in a world championship event alongside elite runners.

Sport Otago Coach Force director Mike Weddell was the Oceania delegate at the IAAF masters committee meeting in Monaco earlier this month and heard the latest thrust to promote world athletics.

He listened to talks by IAAF president Lamine Diack (Senegal) and secretary-general Asser Gabriel (France), who outlined world athletics' plans to grow the sport.

The world marathon and half-marathon championships are at present stand-alone events.

''It's a huge amount of organisation for only 150 athletes,'' Weddell said.

''It would not take much to make it a mass event as well.''

The IAAF bosses believe this approach would attract more attention to the world distance running championships, which do not receive the same publicity as track and field.

The world marathon championships could be held in conjunction with events such as the New York or London marathons.

In New Zealand, the national championships have been held with regular events such as the Rotorua and Southland marathons. The IAAF wants athletics taken to the public by holding more events at city centres and railway stations.

Double Olympic champion Valerie Adams competed in the shot put at the ''Cloud'' in Auckland this month. Athletics Otago holds the annual Time Buster race around the Octagon.

''It's been successful in Europe and the IAAF wants it taken on by the rest of the world,'' Weddell said.

''A pole vault has been held at a railway station in Germany to put the sport in the public eye.''

The IAAF wants to control all athletics events and bring everything under one big umbrella.

''There are a few accidents of history, like Australia and New Zealand and 20 other countries where masters, children and seniors are all governed separately,'' Weddell said.

The IAAF believes they should all be together and is making a big push to get them competing together in athletics events around the world. This is done in Canterbury and Otago but it is not the same in the North Island.

''The three different parts of the sport don't seem to get on too well there,'' Weddell said.

''In some centres, they won't let masters compete with the seniors, and the children are separate.''

The IAAF had a clear vision, Weddell said.

''Their philosophy is that athletics is a cradle-to-the-grave sport. They want everyone to be treated equally.''