SHANGHAI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- It has been five years since Shanghai started to host the IAAF Diamond League meet and now China's capital city Beijing is also biding to join the Diamond League calendar. IAAF vice president Sebastian Coe believes there is still massive potential for athletics to develop in China.
"I think track and field is strong in China. Liu Xiang is probably one of the most recognizable faces for a period of time. And this is the point I am making. There is massive potential for track and field in China," said the vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federation here on Saturday, one day prior to the 2014 Diamond League Shanghai meet.
"It (the Shanghai meet) has been a very important part of international calendar. It has a great support from the city. I spoke to the vice major today and she has committed to the meeting for many years to come. It is very good. The meeting has been very high-standard," said the 57-year-old, who won two Olympic 1500-meter gold medals back in the 1980s.
Talking about the Beijing's bid to join the Diamond League calendar, Coe said: "It is not unusual to have two meetings in one country. In the UK we have two Diamond League meets in London and Birmingham and also in the United States and Switzerland. So I am sure the Diamond League committee will look at this. Beijing is a city that is hosting the World Championships and has hosted the Olympic Games and wants to play a part in the Diamond League circuit."
The 2015 IAAF World Championships will be held from Aug. 22 to 30 in Beijing's National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest", which witnessed the grand opening ceremony of an "exceptional" Olympics Games in 2008. It will be the first time for the quadrennial track and field feast to be held in China.
"I think it is fair to say that the challenge that all track and field meetings have, in fact the challenge for the sports internationally, is to continue to excite the interests of young people. Like I said before, the 20th century was about taking the sport to the world and the 21st century is about taking the sports to young people," Coe said.
"Creating excitement and interests around competitions is very important. We have in track and field some very high-profile competitions. And I am not just simply talking about Usian Bolt. We have great runners. We have great jumpers and we have great field eventers. Some of our athletes are recognized around the world. We need to continue to show young people that track and field is a sport for them."
Coe believes China is a huge market for athletics with a lot of young people who enjoy sports. What IAAF and China's Athletics Assiociation need to cooperate closely on is to attract more young people into the sport.
"I think, in large part, the vibrancy and quality of the team in international level in often reflected in how important track and field is in schools," Coe said.
"Jamaica is a very good example. Track and field is very important in the lives of young people in schools in Jamaica. It is no surprising that many of their young people want to be world class track and field athletes. So it is very important we get it right in schools," he added.