IAAF World Cross Country Championships Boost Paris 2012 Credentials
France continues to prove itself as a world-class host to major international sporting events.
785 international athletes from 74 countries completed the 33rd edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Saint-Etienne/Saint-Galmier (France) last weekend, greeting tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators and supporters at the finish line.
The iconic Championships, run by the IAAF, mark the 25th time in the last 10 years that a world or a European championship is held in France by a Federation within the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). It serves as another example of the French nation’s ability to host a world-class international sporting event on behalf of an International Sports Federation.
Six cross country events took place over the two days that followed an elaborate opening ceremony to welcome the international athletes, spectators and the media to Saint-Etienne -- the long race (men and women), the short course (men and women), and juniors (men and women). All the events involved the very best male, female and junior cross-country runners from around the globe. Under the sparkling blue sky, a record number of enthusiastic 46,000 spectators flooded into the Saint-Galmier racecourse turning on a festive atmosphere for this important event on the world sports calendar.
“Saint-Etienne, its residents and international spectators embraced L’Amour des Jeux, making the World Cross Country Championships a truly successful event that is a testament to France’s exceptional ability to host global sporting events of this scale. Everything was fantastic -- the courses, the weather and the crowd,” said Essar Gabriel, Deputy CEO of Paris 2012 and former CEO of the 2003 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Paris.
“As we enter the final bidding phase, Paris 2012 will continue to project its commitment to making the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games an unrivalled experience for all those involved, leaving behind a positive legacy and a remarkable milestone in the Olympic history,” added Mr. Gabriel. The event was made memorable by the incredible performances of the participating athletes.
Heading the pack was Kenenisa Bekele, who completed his fourth consecutive World Cross Country golden double to become the most medalled athlete in the history of the Championships when he won the men’s long race just 24 hours after the men’s short course. 19-year-old Tirunesh Dibaba from Ethiopia also won a place in history by becoming only the second woman ever to succeed at winning back-to-back World Cross Country titles. Following her feat on Saturday, when she became the youngest woman to win the long race at the Championships, she added the short course title to her medals on Sunday.