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Countdown to Daegu World Championships

In 30 days, Daegu, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, will play host to the world’s fastest and strongest athletes as well as hundreds of international sports officials.

Daegu is preparing for the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics which is slated for Aug. 27-Sept. 4. The biannual event is one of the world’s top three sporting events along with the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. In fact, the IAAF World Championships ranks second only to the World Cup as a single sport event which can bring more than 2,000 athletes. 
Athletes compete at Daegu Pre-Championships in May 2011. (Daegu Organizing Committee)
Athletes compete at Daegu Pre-Championships in May 2011. (Daegu Organizing Committee)

More than 3,500 athletes and officials including triple Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and Women’s pole vault record-holder Yelena Isinbayeva, will be competing at Korea’s first ever world championships in athletics.

The nine-day event will kick-off on Aug. 27 at 9 a.m. with the women’s marathon, and in the evening the opening ceremony will be held at Daegu Stadium, the country’s largest stadium which served as one of the main venues for the 2002 World Cup and also the 2003 Universiade Games.

With just 30 days to go to the opening ceremony, final preparations are in full swing for the world’s biggest athletics event.

To prepare for the global sporting event, the local organizing committee replaced two large video screens at the stadium with High Definition LED screens. The new screens not only increase spectator visibility but also ensure the reliability of event coverage during the event, according to the LOC.

The state-of-art Mondo track and filed surface was also installed earlier to help athletes set new records at Daegu Stadium.

Daegu 2011 will also be the first IAAF World Championships to feature an athletes and media village. The village, located just five minutes drive from the main stadium, consists of nine buildings that can accommodate up to 3,500 people. The construction has been completed, and finishing touches, such as interior decorations, are also expected to be done by Aug. 5.

Daegu, the country’s third largest city with a population of more than 2.5 million, has already proved its capability to host large athletic events by successfully hosting its annual Pre-Championships event since 2005.

The LOC says that by successfully hosting the World Championships next month, it hopes to create an athletics boom in here.

Korean athletics, having failed to make an impact in top level competitions for a long time, still lags far behind other leading countries. But the local organizers claim that the nine-day event will be a turning point.

“I believe the Daegu championships will turn our athletics passion and hope into a reality,” Oh Dong-jin, president of Korea Association of Athletics Federations said.

“It will be also vital in boosting the public’s interest and support for the athletics events,” he added.

Moon Bong-gi, head coach of the Korean national athletics team, acknowledged that the qualifying standards for the Daegu Championships, particularly the short-distance running events, are still very tough for Korean athletics, but he added: “Our aim is not just to qualify for the event, but to break into the finals, so that we could at least show something to our home supporters.”

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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