Last Friday was a fantastic day for British sport as London was named host city for the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
The tension in the room in the moments up to the announcement was palpable but it soon turned to joy the moment International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack opened up the envelope and said the word: “London”.
I always believed in our bid, which highlighted the country’s passion for athletics, how we would help grow the sport and the fantastic legacy it would leave from London 2012, with the Championships to be held in the Olympic Stadium.
But the challenge with any bid is convincing the all-important voters that you are the best place to deliver their Championship, especially when we were up against such an impressive rival in Doha, who I congratulate on their excellent bid. My two days in Monaco was spent feverishly lobbying as we looked to get the support we needed to get over the line.
We had a fantastic bid team led by Seb Coe and our presentation ahead of the vote couldn’t have gone any better. Boris Johnson did what he does best and showcased London in his own inimitable, amusing style, Ed Warner and Niels de Vos from UK Athletics explained how London 2017 would be an excellent sporting and commercial success while Dennis Lewis and Jodie Williams spoke about how London 2017 was the athlete’s choice. Williams showed poise and composure beyond her 18 years in her delivery. She gave an inspiring, eloquent plea about why London should be picked. Jodie will be in the peak of her career by the time 2017 comes round and I wouldn’t bet against her being one of the stars of British athletics then.
But the best speech was saved for last. No-one in the room could fail to see what it meant to Seb as he closed our presentation. His impassioned speech was straight from the heart as he spoke of how athletics had made him and that this was about wanting to give something back to the sport that he loves.
Securing the World Athletics Championships means a lot for the UK. Not only has it helped reinforce the sports legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it has underlined the UK’s status as a nation capable of putting on world-class sporting events. It adds to a list that already includes London 2012, the Rugby League and Rugby Union World Cups in 2013 and 2015 respectively, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, the World Gymnastics and World Canoe Championships in 2015 and the Cricket World Cup in 2019.
I know that in 2017 the British sporting public will embrace the World Athletics Championships and fill the Olympic stadium to see the best athletes in the world compete, only a few years after London 2012.
I’d like to thank the IAAF for their decision. It is the right one for their sport and I know we won’t let them down.