News11 Aug 2013

IAAF Ambassadors Press Conference 11 August: Roman Sebrle, Allyson Felix and Sergey Bubka


Sergey Bubka, Allyson Felix and Roman Sebrle at the IAAF Ambassador Press Conference Moscow 2013

Most of the questions at the second IAAF Ambassadors press conference in Moscow were directed to Ukraine's six-time World Pole Vault champion and IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka.

“I can’t believe that the first World Championships was 30 years ago; I guess that means I’m old!” said Bubka, when asked about how the sport has changed during that time. “Since then, the sport has become more and more professional, athletes communicate with the media and the sport is promoted well. We have fantastic athletes in this sport and they are great role models for younger athletes.”

Naturally, as the World record-holder in the event, Bubka is looking forward to tomorrow’s Pole Vault final.

“It will be a very exciting and interesting event,” he said. “I know from personal experience, the Luzhniki Stadium is a very special arena. I hope the weather will be good so the athletes can perform to their best. I believe there will be great results in a very exciting competition. I’d like to see something special, perhaps something over six metres.

“I never try to make predictions, it’s against my principles,” he added, when pushed to pick a winner. “I was an athlete myself and in many cases I was the favourite but I didn’t win. No athlete likes to compete badly, so in my position as a sports administrator, I’d never want to put extra pressure on them.

“Together with their coaches, they know what to do, so I just want to help them. Either way, I personally hope the Ukrainian team performs well and that we see a new generation of stars.”

Despite Bubka’s six World titles, there was another athlete in the room who had an even higher tally of World Championships medals.

Three-time World 200m champion Allyson Felix will be looking to add to the 10 medals she has already won at past IAAF World Championships. Now 27, the US sprinter made her World Championships debut 10 years ago in Paris.

“Those 10 years have gone by really fast, but it’s been a really great experience seeing the changes at each World Championships,” she said. “I’ve been getting stronger each year, and I’ve learned so much from being around a lot of great athletes. It’s good to still be around 10 years later and seeing all the new faces that are coming through.

“I hope I have been an inspiration to young girls, especially because I have a different body type to a lot of sprinters. I try to tell young girls to just embrace who you are and don’t try to change. You can still be strong and feminine.”

Czech Republic's Roman Sebrle, the 2004 Olympic Decathlon champion, was talking at the press conference while his chosen event was taking place inside the stadium.

At that moment in time, World record-holder Ashton Eaton was competing in the Pole Vault, looking to extend his lead over the rest of the field.

“It’s an interesting competition; the Pole Vault especially has been really good. Ashton is jumping well and I think he’ll easily win.”

Sebrle was also speaking on the day of the men’s 100m final and, as often happens in athletics press conferences, the topic of Usain Bolt came up.

“I expect a very good race in the 100m,” said the former World record-holder and the first man to exceed 9000 points in his event. “Usain Bolt is, of course the main favourite, but I hope the other guys will make it an interesting race for the spectators.

“He’s a role model because he’s been successful in the sprints and of course has inspired many people,” he added. “Thank God for Usain Bolt.”

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF