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NACAC's Lopez outlines plans for region's athletics

Published:Tuesday | September 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM
File photo shows Victor Lopez (left), president, North America, Central America and the Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), and Technique Lab Director David Riley observing an athlete going through a speed test at Technique Lab on Tuesday, October 22, last year. Lopez had toured the lab and described it as an important development for sports in the region.

MARRAKECH, Morocco: An expansion of the regional circuit, the staging of a regional senior championships and the strong marketing of the organisation and its stakeholders are some of the developments that North America, Central America and Caribbean Area (NACAC) president, Victor Lopez, believes will ensure that the region remains dominant in international athletics.

Lopez, who also serves as president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Coaches' Commission and president of the Association of Pan American Athletics, is also hoping that his administration will be able to lead the stabilising of the federations in the area, as mandated by the IAAF.

The NACAC boss hailed the impact of the area on global track and field, pointing to several innovations that have since been adopted in the halls of the IAAF and elsewhere, while underscoring the importance of laying the groundwork for continued development and excellence.

Chief among his plans is the staging of a NACAC Senior Championships next year, which will feature the added incentive of an IAAF World Championships wildcard for event winners.

SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

"In 2015, we will resume the NACAC Area championships for the seniors. They had it in 2007 and the entries were not overwhelming, so my predecessors decided not to keep the competition," Lopez told The Gleaner.

"In the last (IAAF) Congress in Moscow, the delegates mandated the area to have an area championships and we will have this one in August 2015 in San José, Costa Rica," Lopez advised.

"The winner of every event will advance to the World Championships with an A standard. It will remain the prerogative of the individual federations to enter the athlete or not, but the athlete would have earned the right to qualify directly."

He added: "We are also looking at the calendar and the competition presentation, which are both very important. We have to expand our calendar of one-day meets. The idea is to bring world-class athletes, and we have a lot of them in the area, so that will be a plus and the Europeans can come and compete in the months when it's cold in Europe," Lopez noted.

There are currently two Diamond League (Prefontaine and adidas Grand Prix) and three World Challenge meets (Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Brazil) being staged in the area.

"That's another big step that we are taking, because we want to allow our athletes to compete at their best in their home country, so that people of the region can see them as well," said Lopez.

MARKETING STRATEGY

The administrator also pointed to a recent agreement with MONDO and ongoing discussions with Scotiabank and Digicel as part of a wider marketing strategy.

Lopez also pointed to NACAC's influence in policy change at the IAAF level and its pioneering of educational programmes for coaches and administrators.

"We need to keep educating our coaches, our leaders, our officials, and even our athletes about money management and their options after retirement," said Lopez.

NACAC is also driving efforts to ensure that all its member federations are observing best practices, with the help of several consultants who are also helping to review each constitution and by-law.

"We have to make sure that our reports to the IAAF are correct, that the federations report all the data that they have to the IAAF. We are also reviewing every constitution and by-law of every federation, because some of them are not really democratic, there are a lot of discrepancies and flaws in some," Lopez pointed out.