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Posted: November 1, 2016:  

Athletics: IAAF President Sebastian Coe to Attend 2016 Blom Bank Beirut Marathon

By Paul Gains

Since he took office in August 2015 IAAF President Sebastian Coe has set out to restore the good image of athletics and to that end he has been travelling the four corners of the globe on an almost continuous basis.

Lord Coe has included the 14th annual Beirut Marathon (November 13th) in his busy calendar and will be on site as a guest of the event organizers.

The excitement of visiting the Lebanese capital for this IAAF Silver Label race was palpable in his voice as he spoke by telephone from Doha, Qatar last Friday. He praises, in particular, the initiative of Ms. May El Khalil, who plotted the first Beirut Marathon in 2003 after an horrific accident left her unable to continue running.

"I am (excited) because it is a marathon that goes way, way beyond just the competition either participation or elite," he said. "Itís very creation was borne of a pretty challenging time for May (El Khalil). It was while she was in a hospital bed that she came up with the idea.

"And with athletes from 85 different countries competing with a very, very important message, that sport is one of the great drivers of peace and reconciliation, this is clearly an event I would like to see, and, clearly an event that is built simply more than competitive sport.

"And there is something in there for everyone. You have got grandparents racing; you have 1km races, right up to the full distance and the opportunity for young people to understand the fun participating in races like that. This hits a lot of very important things for us."

Coe reveals this will not be his first visit to Lebanon. Several years ago he made a political trip to the country. This time, however, it will be a trip which demonstrates his passion for the sport that has been so good to him. Indeed, he remains the only man in history to successfully defend an Olympic 1,500m title winning in both 1980 in Moscow and four years later at the Los Angeles Games. Perhaps as noteworthy to the current generation Coe was at the helm of the 2012 London Olympics.

He will undertake a busy schedule over the Beirut Marathon race weekend. But this is nothing he isnít used to.

"I donít know the program; it is being put together at the moment right now with our office and the marathon organizers," he adds. "I have been with the Lebanon federation here in Qatar for the last couple of days discussing the (IAAF) reform program. We know how excited we both are that I will be there. Itís a commitment I gave a couple of years ago. I am delighted that the diary has allowed us to do this."

As he travels the world Coe has sought to counteract the damage that has been done to the sport of athletics through corruption and doping scandals. This current global trip has focused on IAAF reform which he summarizes clearly.

"Itís simple," he declares. "Itís returning trust to the sport and to the organization and primarily giving permission for the clean athletes to feel we are doing everything we possibly can to create a level playing field for their competitions.

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