Monaco, December 3: The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will begin honouring its heritage with plaques at historically significant locations around the world, its president Lord Sebastian Coe announced.
American sprinter and jumper Jesse Owens, distance runners Paavo Nurmi of Finland and Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia and Dutch sprint-hurdles star Fanny Blankers-Koen are among a dozen athletes selected for the first plaques for achievements at lesser-known stadiums.
"The IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, performances, cities, venues, landmarks and culture around the world," Coe said at a special ceremony.
Representatives and family members of seven of the athletes presented Coe with historic artefacts from their relatives' careers for inclusion in the IAAF Heritage Collection.
The plaques will be displayed at a location closely associated with each recipient.
"Many of the stadiums and tracks which we recognise today have already vanished and these plaques will be a permanent reminder of the incredible athletics deeds which took place at those locations," Coe said.
"There would be no point in us placing plaques on the wall of every Olympic stadium as... these are already well-known landmarks. Instead we are looking to highlight lesser-known locations associated with equally outstanding performances."
One of those is Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Owens set four world records in the sprints, long jump and hurdles in 45 minutes on one afternoon in 1935. The field is in transition mode with modern athletics facilities opened elsewhere at the University of Michigan.
A three-way voting process determined the finalists. The IAAF Council and the IAAF Family cast their votes by e-mail, while fans voted online via the IAAF's social media platforms. The IAAF Council's vote counted for 50 per cent of the result, while the IAAF Family's votes and the public votes each counted for 25 per cent of the final result. Voting closed on November 12.
(With IAAF Media inputs)