Durban: 01 October 2014
The Global Athletics Conference today unveiled one of the greatest athletes of all time, track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, as the latest addition to the keynote speakers roster at the summit.
The Global Athletics Conference(@GAC_2014), which will be an annual event, takes place on 14 and 15 November and will bring some of the foremost athletics and sports business professionals to Durban to engage with delegates from across Africa. The international athletics conference aims to up-skill and equip athletics stakeholders as South Africa contemplates bidding for global events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
Joyner-Kersee was the first American woman to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon. She won three Olympic golds, a silver and two bronze, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.
“It’s an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to give back to a sport that has given me so much. At the same time I look forward to learning from a continent that has so much talent and even more potential. I am absolutely delighted to be coming to South Africa,” said Joyner-Kersee.
Among the key note speakers secured are four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon; Award-winning American running commentator Toni Reavis; Senior Sports Researcher at adidas Dr Maarten Hupperets and Chairman of Repucom Kelvin Watt. Panellists include Marketing Director of adidas Spencer Nel, Head of Sponsorship at SAB Errol Madlala; Olympic medallist and founder of the Endurocad high performance programme Elana Meyer; Manager of the MacSteel Maestros high performance programme Gill Taylor; Executive Head for Sponsorship at Vodacom Bronson Mokabela; and former World Champion relay sprinter Matthew Quinn.
Additional speakers and panellists will be announced in the run-up to the event, which will be held at the Sibaya Conference Centre outside Umhlanga, Durban. Dame Kelly Holmes has unfortunately had to withdraw from the conference.
Boldon, who will facilitate discussions and debate at the Global Athletic Conference 2014, said it was the ideal time for South Africa to stage such a relevant initiative if it wanted to ensure greater success on the international athletics stage.
“Modern athletics has evolved dramatically and there is a need for ongoing skills transfer and up-skilling,” said Boldon. “This conference will benefit all stakeholders in the sport, from event organisers to high performance institutions. Increasing capacity and knowledge will lead to more competitive events and give South Africa a good platform to compete at and host premier international events such as Commonwealth Games, Diamond League and even the Olympic Games in future.”
The GAC 2014 will be a first for the athletics fraternity in the world and is driven by its vision to educate and empower administrators, coaches and event organisers across the continent. It also aims to improve the standard of both athletics events and athlete performances to ensure success on the international athletics stage, thereby improving corporate sector confidence in the sport.
Among the topics the esteemed panel will cover includes how to create sporting properties that are internationally recognised; building an event brand; securing commercial partners; maintaining and increasing women’s participation in athletics and the need for high performance in building world class events.
Athletics SA president Aleck Skhosana said the sport was in need of fresh thinking in order to meet the demands of modern international athletics and Olympic success.
“It’s no secret that athletics in South Africa has had a chequered track record of late and we as the new administration are committed to developing a new era for the country’s athletes. We know that we have a long and arduous road ahead of us as the new ASA board. Initiatives such as the Global Athletics Conference are therefore vital for the skills transfer and up-skilling so that we can capacitate our stakeholders and ensure that we reach our goals,” said Skhosana.
KwaZulu-Natal Athletics President Sello Mokoena said the aim of the conference was to create a dynamic forum for cutting edge discussion, analysis and action. “We realised that to keep up with the top performing Olympic countries we need to expose the athletic community to the latest trends and thinking. Therefore we have assembled some of the brightest minds to speak to local administrators and officials. By touching the lives of these individuals we believe we will be creating the next generation of Olympic heroes and world class events on African soil,” said Mr Mokoena.
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