By Frank Cole
Having been at the helm of affairs as president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) for 15 years, Senegalese-born Lamine Diack has said that it is time to call it quits.
He made this pronouncement during a lunch organized by the IAAF at the Terrou Bi Hotel in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday March 20 for over 60 sports journalists from across Africa who participated in the just-concluded AIPS-Africa Congress in that country.
“My term as the IAAF President ends next year (2015) and I will not seek another mandate to be president of the IAAF,” he said, recalling his days at high school when he was practicing journalism just to earn a living.
“At that time, I used to write about football and athletics to complement what I get from people as stipend, but never took it as a career,” he added, and continued: “However, during those trying times I was opportune to meet and make friends with those in authorities who encouraged me to pay attention to sports.”
Diack, who celebrated his 80th birthday last year June 3rd, admonished the African sports journalists to work strongly as a team, group and family to fight for the power of sports in their respective countries.
“It is only when you work as a united front that your job becomes relevant. You should uphold your integrity, your independence; this puts you in a position to negotiate from a position of strength,” he said.
Born in Dakar on 7 June 1933, Mr. Diack told the gathering that as president of a sports association or federation, one should work very hard for the progress of sports rather than “putting on tie and living a luxurious life”.
Diack, a talented long jumper who won the 1958 French title and achieved his personal best of 7.72m when he won the 1959 French Universities Championships the following year, suffered a knee injury which dashed his ambitions of going to the 1960 Olympic Games.
He was elected to the IAAF Council at the 30th IAAF Congress in 1976 that was held in the Canadian city of Montreal, and became Senior Vice-President of the organization in 1991. He ascended to his present position as the IAAF chief after the death of the Federation’s fourth President, Primo Nebiolo, on November 7 1999, and subsequently was re-elected unopposed in 2001, 2003, 2007 and in 2011.
Diack became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since December 1999 and is one of only a few Africans ever to be a leader of an international sports federation.