[QODLink]
Athletics

Athletics needs to find middle ground

While Usain Bolt raises the profile of sprinting, 1,500 metre runner Hicham El Guerrouj worries about middle distance.

Last Modified: 29 Oct 2013 16:43
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
El Guerrouj says young people are more interested in football and tennis but admits doping plagues athletics [GETTY]

World 1,500 metres record holder Hicham El Guerrouj has called on athletics' world governing body to bolster public interest in middle-distance running which has been overshadowed by the feats of Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt.

Bolt, winner of six Olympic gold medals, will earn an estimated $10 million a year in a sponsorship deal with German sportswear company Puma that will take the 27-year-old to the end of his career.

El Guerrouj said that endorsements and support for runners at longer distances were much less.

We have some good athletes in some different middle distance races, but in general the youth is more interested in doing different sports like soccer, tennis

Hicham El Guerrouj, World 1,500 metres record holder

He said youngsters were also being lured away from athletics to other sports which was a problem the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had to solve.

"Usain Bolt is doing a great job for track and field, but he's casting a shadow over other races, which is very hard for those athletes, so it's the role of the IAAF to promote these to be more in the limelight," El Guerrouj said.

"We have some good athletes in some different middle distance races, but in general the youth is more interested in doing different sports like soccer, tennis."

The Moroccan, who also holds the world mile record, said some local and foreign companies had sponsored him during his career, but these contracts were small change compared to the endorsements earned by soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Doping allegations have sullied athletics of late, with several athletes failing drugs tests. They include Bolt's Jamaican team mates former world 100 metres record holder Asafa Powell and twice 200 metres Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

"A zero tolerance rule must be in the sport, we are promoting Olympic sports and they must be clean," double Olympic champion Guerrouj said.

"It's hard to talk about track and field today, there some issues we need to fix."

339

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.

Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.