By E. Glenford Prescott
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will host another International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) presidential candidate, Lord Sebastian Coe, this weekend as he attempts to woe this country’s ruling body for track and field Team Athletics SVG (TASVG).
It is the second time in less than a month that the country will welcome a candidate in a presidential race of a world governing body.
Last month, SVG opened its arms to Egyptian Prince Bin Ali who is challenging FIFA President “Sepp” Blatter for that position in elections next month.
Bin Ali, a vice-president of the body, met with SVGFF president Venold Coombs and Sports Minister Cecil “Ces” Mckie, as he attempted to make inroads into what appears to be an impregnable bastion by Blatter, who is seeking a fourth term.
While in SVG, Coe, a four-time Olympic medallist, is expected to meet with the executives of TASVG, the Olympic Committee, coaches, athletes, as well as McKie.
Earlier this year, Coe declared his candidacy for the post of President of the IAAF where his main contender would be former Olympic and world pole vault champion and record-breaker, Sergey Bubka of Ukraine.
Reports say that during his visit to SVG, Coe will explain his candidacy and vision for the future of the sport and the IAAF. He will arrive in SVG from Jamaica and will then go on to Trinidad and on to the annual Carifta Congress, scheduled to take place on Easter Monday in St. Kitts.
President of TASVG Keith Joseph was adamant that his organisation had not chosen a candidate and would only do so after hearing from both contenders.
He said one of the major things that will influence that decision is who will be in the best position to assist with the advancement of the sport in SVG.
“We have to listen to both men and see who can provide what we ask for, or if they cannot do so now give us an idea as to how best they can go about doing so when they get into office.”
Joseph said that Bubka will not be coming to SVG, but like Coe will be attending the Carifta Congress, where he will lay out his case. Joseph indicated that he had spoken to Bubka in Veracruz but said that the rest of the TASVG executive did not have the benefit of that meeting.
In his days on the track, Coe, then a middle-distance runner, won four Olympic medals, including the 1500 metres gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1980 and 1984.
He set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle-distance track events, including, in 1979, setting three world records in the space of 41 days. The world record he set in the 800 metres in 1981 remained unbroken until 1997.
Reports say that Coe’s rivalries with fellow Britons Steve Ovett and Steve Cram dominated middle-distance racing for much of the 1980s.
Following Coe’s retirement from athletics, he was a member of parliament for the Conservative Party from 1992 to 1997.
He spearheaded the successful London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and became chair of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.
In 2007, he was also elected a vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
And on Aug. 25, 2011, he was re-elected for another four-year term.