The International Amateur Athletics Federations (IAAF) President, Lamine Diack of Senegal, has expressed his hope that athletics will become a core sport for today's youth, even in the midst of other choices they face as young people.
Speaking to a throng of future stars at the opening press conference of the 6th IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone/Brixen, Mr Diack said: "Young people today have many choices, not only when it comes to sport, but other pastimes.
"That was why the IAAF created the World Youth Championships, because the sport of athletics must reach out to this age group and encourage them to fall in love with our sport.
"Athletics is the core sport which develops children in a rounded way and enables them to do well in almost any other physical activity. More than the physical aspect, Athletics is a pastime which offers wider guiding values in life.
"It helps to prepare young people for the challenges they will experience throughout their life. The IAAF must ensure that the sport’s confidence-building and inspirational effects are experienced by as many children worldwide as possible."
"Projects such as Kids’ Athletics and the annual World Athletics Day, and the establishment of the IAAF School/Youth commission were projects planned to present our sport as a core element in every child’s education.
"Over the past six years the IAAF World Youth Championships has proved to be a winner, not only with our Member Federations and young athletes but also cities who appreciate the unique qualities of the “World Youth”.
"This is because the World Youth Championships is not just another competition but also an opportunity for youngsters to gain valuable experience, to improve personal bests, and to build friendships with their rivals from every corner of the world.
"I am particularly proud that we organized an IAAF Masterclass, here in Bressanone, which provided a forum for youngsters to gain an entertaining, and educational view of our sport," he added.
The IAAF Masterclass had former legends like double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes and World record holder at 800m Wilson Kipketer, World Indoor record holder at High Jump Kajsa Bergqvist, World Long Jump record holder Mike Powell and European 400m Hurdles record holder Stephane Diagana in attendance to passon their knowledge and experience to the next generation of stars in Bressanone/Brixen.