IAAF Presidential candidate, Sergey Bubka, has underlined the importance of schools athletics competitions for the future development of the sport following the conclusion of the World Athletics Schools’ Championships in Wuhan, China.
Bubka, who's an IAAF Vice President, said: “The importance of school athletics events at regional, national and international level should not be underestimated. Athletics is fundamental for every physical activity, so every youngster can find an athletics discipline which suits them.
"The global system of school championships provides unique opportunities for millions of young people to compete and win medals.
“I would like to congratulate the organizers and coaches who made the World School Athletics Championships such a fantastic event – and my applause to the young athletes who performed at the highest level.
“I know from my own experience that competitive spirit and opportunity to win is what attracts young athletes to sport and convince them to continue training. School athletics events certainly help to identify future stars.
"Even if young men and women don’t emulate Usain Bolt or Genzebe Dibaba, school athletics makes the social mission of our sport possible. It takes young people off the streets by keeping them busy after their classes and shows them what a healthy lifestyle and real competitive sport is about,” he noted.
Bubka has outlined his plans to engage with schools athletics competitions all over the world in his ‘Taking Athletics To New Heights’ programme.
He also believes that the ‘Olympic Stork’ project he initiated in Ukraine in 2011 has much in common with international school sport by involving hundreds of thousands of young people from every secondary school in Ukraine in team competitions.
Bubka added: “As many countries as possible should be involved in regional, national and international school competitions. If we want to do more to engage with youth audiences in athletics, we must support schools athletics competitions and cooperate effectively with education bodies in order to organize and promote events at every level.”
The World School Athletics Championships are a biennial event organized since 1973 by the International School Sport Federation. The 2015 edition took place in Wuhan, China, between June 27 and July 2, 2015.
Bubka's programme, ‘Taking Athletics To New Heights’ is available in six languages (ENG, FRA, SPA, ARA, CHI, RUS) and can be downloaded from his website . A video presentation of the Program can be viewed on YouTube.