Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics, wants his sport to adopt a three-point agenda towards the expansion of the sport. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Grow, inspire, lead. These three words will lead the mission of a newly-coined strategic plan laid down by World Athletics, the global governing body for athletics.

Faced with a host of modern-day challenges, including a diminishing presence from youth in sport, WA has put a four-year growth structure in place using the three-pronged dynamics of growth, inspiration and leadership.

“The plan is to harness the power and accessibility of athletics to drive growth in the sport and create a healthier and fitter world,” WA President Sebastian Coe said at the announcement of the initiative late on Tuesday.

In recent meetings, WA and its 214 member federations have been actively discussing the direction athletics ought to take over the next few years while also considering the short-term challenges and opportunities the sport has as the world begins to emerge from the current lockdown.

“A huge amount of work has been put into developing our four-year Strategic Plan. This is an exceptional body of work that brings together all the great things we do as a global sport body with a laser sharp focus on doing it better, and includes some innovative and creative ideas to drive growth in our sport,” Coe noted.

“It is exactly the type of roadmap our sport needs to bring together all our stakeholders with a single vision, mission and clear priorities,” he stressed.

The entire initiative will be led by WA CEO Jon Ridgeon with inputs and involvement from all at the WA headquarters, including the Executive Board, Area Presidents, Commission Chairs and Commissions.

While the three-fold strategy will act as the crux, the entire plan will be focus around four priority goals including participation and events, people, fans and partnerships.

Those in-charge have been tasked with delivering more events at every level of the sport so that athletics has a fan following around the world. Holding all these together will be the vital element of partnerships, both commercial or non-commercial, so as to generate new financial and activation opportunities for the sport.

Among the new events that will most probably make an entry will be an alternating Road and Off-Road Championships and a cross country race at the Olympics as per the goals set in the WA Strategic Plan 2020-2023.

A biennial World Athletics Road Championships combining the World Half Marathon, a mass participation race and other elements such as the World Race Walking Team Championships has been proposed in the four-year Plan.

A World Athletics Off-Road Championships has been proposed for the intervening years, which could combine the World Athletics Cross Country Championships with other disciplines such as trail or mountain running. World Athletics will also push ahead with efforts to get cross-country into the Winter Olympics.

Three-point agenda

* Grow: the sport and make it relevant in people’s lives and the lives of the communities they live in.

* Inspire: by creating globally appealing and accessible competitions, events and activities so that talented athletes can entertain and inspire the world.

* Lead: by being the best example of a well-governed sports federation taking brave leadership decisions and valuing partnerships that deliver athletics around the world.