Yesterday (3 Sept. 2014) KwaZulu-Natal Athletics announced that it will stage a world first annual international athletics conference in Durban, RSA to up-skill and equip athletics stakeholders as South Africa contemplates bidding for mega global events such as the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
The Global Athletics Conference (@GAC_2014), which will be an annual event, and will take place on 14 and 15 November 2014, bringing some of the foremost athletics and sports business professionals to Durban to engage with delegates from across Africa.
Among the key note speakers secured are four-time Olympic medallist Mr Ato Boldon; double Olympic Gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes; award-winning American running commentator Mr Toni Reavis; Marketing Director of Adidas International Mr Spencer Nel, Chairman of Repucom Mr Kelvin Watt and Head of Sponsorship at SABMiller, Mr Errol Madlala. Additional speakers and panelists will be announced in the run-up to the event, which will be held at the Sibaya Conference Centre outside Umhlanga, Durban.
Boldon, who will facilitate discussions at Global Athletic Conference 2014, said it was the ideal time for South Africa to stage such a relevant initiative if it wanted to ensure greater success on the international athletics stage.
“Modern athletics has evolved dramatically and there is a need for ongoing skills transfer and upskilling,” said Boldon. “This conference will benefit all stakeholder in the sport, from event organisers to high performance institutions. Increasing capacity and knowledge will lead to more competitive events and give South Africa a good platform to compete at and host premier international events such as Commonwealth Games, Diamond League and even the Olympic Games in future.”
The GAC 2014 will be a first for the athletics fraternity with its goal to educate and empower administrators, coaches and event organisers across the continent to improve the standard of both domestic athletics events and athlete performances to ensure success on the international athletics stage, thereby improving corporate sector confidence in the sport of athletics. Among the topics the esteemed panel will cover includes how to create sporting properties that are internationally recognised; building an event brand; securing commercial partners; maintaining and increasing women’s participation in athletics and the need for high performance in building world-class events.
KwaZulu-Natal Athletics President Sello Mokoena said the aim of the conference was to create a dynamic forum for cutting edge discussion, analysis and action. “We at KZN Athletics realised that in order to keep up with the top performing Olympic countries we need to expose the athletic community to the latest trends and thinking. Therefore we have assembled some of the brightest minds to speak to local administrators and officials. By touching the lives of these individuals we believe we will be creating the next generation of Olympic heroes and world-class events on African soil,” said Mr Mokoena.
He went on to say there was a need to develop the business of athletics in South Africa as well as ensure that the country stayed on the cusp of world-class performances. “To create an internationally recognised and prestigious athletics conference based in South Africa we want to raise the profile of South Africa as an international athletics destination; and give locals stakeholders the tools with which to stage world-class and financially sustainable events. “