Jakob Larsen, the man who led the organising committee behind the innovative and challenging World Athletics Cross Country course in Aarhus, Denmark, last year, has been appointed Director of Competition and Events for World Athletics.
Following a worldwide search which began at the end of last year, the 50-year old Danish national was selected from a strong list of 74 candidates from more than 20 countries.
Commenting on the appointment, World Athletics CEO, Jon Ridgeon said:
“Jakob’s skills and experience across our sport are rare and valuable. He combines incredible knowledge of athletics, having run a Member Federation, hosted world championships, one-day meetings, park and road events, with creativity and innovation which is critical to the journey we are on to grow athletics.”
“Jakob’s background in running high-performance programmes, coaching, developing schools’ tournaments and scientific research gives him a unique perspective on our sport from the playground to the podium. We are delighted to welcome him to his new role at a time when we are focussing on our global calendar, defining our core product and expanding our one-day meetings. Jakob will be a real asset.
As CEO of the Danish Athletic Federation for the last 12 years Larsen has grown revenues by 800% and transformed the organisation from a traditional national governing body to an agile project-based organisation with an innovative performance system. He and his team have invested in hosting several significant road races and other events, including the Schools Olympics, the Royal Run, the Copenhagen Half Marathon and two World Athletics Championships (World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in 2014 and the highly acclaimed World Cross Country Championships in 2019).
Commenting on his appointment, Jakob Larsen said: “This is a real honour for me. I have worked across many facets of sport over the last 25 years – from research and analysis to delivering events at all levels, coaching and running a national sports federation. Athletics is a sport I love and I am joining a world class team operating on a global stage in the most participated sport in the world. It is a dream come true and I am looking forward to being part of the team that creates and delivers the changes that will see athletics grow from strength to strength. With 214 Member Federations I can’t think of a stronger global network to work alongside to deliver this growth.”
Larsen will take up his position in early April and will be based in Monaco at World Athletics head office.
As part of his role, Larsen will Chair the newly-formed Global Calendar Unit. The Unit which is currently chaired by World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon has been established to lead, manage and coordinate all parts of the global athletics calendar from World to National Championships and all competitions in between. Its aim is to create a 3-4 year long-term, constantly updated global calendar to make the competition schedule across the globe easier to understand and follow for all stakeholders. Membership of the Unit come from all six areas and include:
- Cherry Alexander (GBR, European Athletics Competition Chair)
- Alfonz Juck (SVK, Euro Meetings President)
- Jean Pierre Schoebel (MON, Wanda Diamond League representative)
- Anna Riccardi (ITA, World Athletics Council & Former Chair of European Calendar Working Group)
- Duffy Mahoney (USA, USATF Chief of Sport Performance)
- Michael Serralta (PUR, Competition Director NACAC)
- Yukio Seki (JPN, JAAF International Relations Director)
- Yvonne Mullins (AUS, Oceania General Secretary)
- Gavin Yang Feng (CHN, Competition Director Chinese Athletics Association)
- Helio Gesta de Melo (BRA, CONSUDATLE President)
- Jackson Tuwei (KEN, Athletics Kenya President)