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IAAF looks forward to Berlin, Diack fulfils his dream

2004-12-06

For neutral observers it was clear from the outset that there could be only one winner in Helsinki: Berlin. But the large delegation from the German capital was nervously awaiting the decision of the venue of the 12th World Championships in Athletics 2009. Berlin had made bad experiences just two and a half years ago, when they had failed as favorite for the World Championships 2005 - surprisingly Helsinki had won.

"This is not a normal meeting you do every day, but a real challenge. So you are not so relaxed", explained the governing mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, after Berlin’s presentation in front of the Council members of the IAAF. The presentation was successfully and convincingly done. When after two and a half-hours of waiting the IAAF president, Lamine Diack, announced Berlin as a winner the Minister of the Interior Otto Schily called this "a marvelous success for Germany". And Schily added: "Germany is one of the outstanding locations for big sports events world-wide. For Berlin these championships will be very nice."

An almost perfect presentation in Helsinki, which rounded off a strong bid, had the consequence that the German capital received overwhelming support. According to unofficial statements 24 of the 26 Council members voted for Berlin. Therefore Valencia received just two votes, while there was none for Split.

At the end of the close to half-hour long Berlin presentation there was a joker: Frank Fredericks appeared and strongly supported the Berlin application. The 37-year-old Sprinter from Namibia, who was world champion at 200 meters in 1993, is among the most popular international athletes. He is married to a Berlin woman, he is a member of the IOC and belongs to the IAAF Athletes commission. “Frankie Fredericks was our joker: the Council members did not expect this", Klaus Wowereit explained.

"Berlin is my second hometown, and the application was strong. Therefore it was not a question that I would support it", explained Frank Fredericks, who was already addressed a year ago by Berlin. To hide him in Helsinki before the presentation Fredericks was accommodated in another hotel. "Having the World Championships in Berlin, is a great opportunity for German athletes. I wish, I could still compete", Fredericks said.

"Despite of our position as the favorites we did not back-lean, but fought right to the end", the governing mayor explained. This time probably not even a mistake during the presentation could have led to the Council members not voting for Berlin. The fact that Valencia had travelled to Helsinki without the governing mayor was a clear indication. It was said, that this might have been a political decision – may be the Spaniards did not want to get in the way of Berlin. Instead their application could have been a warming up. Spain might want to concentrate on the bid for 2011.

"The IAAF is happy that the World Championships take place in Berlin”, explained IAAF President Lamine Diack and added: "And I am personally very glad about it." Already two and a half years ago Diack had been a strong proponent of Berlin. "After Berlin had lost the decision about 2005, I was glad that the city started a new approach." In the 50ies the IAAF President from Senegal was a long jumper with a personal best of 7.72 meters. "Jesse Owens was my idol. Because of his success in the 1936 Olympics he is as closely connected to Berlin as no-one else – Jesse Owens is Berlin. I always dreamed to go to Berlin with the World Championships. Now we finally go there, and we made the right choice."


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