Sebastian Coe, double Olympic 1500m champion, mastermind of the London 2012 Olympics and firm supporter of the Great Run series, has been elected as president of the world governing body of track and field, the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Lord Coe, who was on Tyneside last year to mark the millionth finisher in the Great North Run and to welcome the world's biggest half marathon into the IAAF's Athletics for a Better World global responsibility programme, was voted into the number one post in world athletics at the 50th IAAF Congress in Beijing this morning.
“I am deeply honoured that our sport has placed its trust in me,” he said.
"There is no job I want to do more – nor with greater commitment.”
Coe, 58, won an election battle with Ukraine's former pole vault world record holder Sergey Bubka by 115 votes to 92 and will become only the second Briton to hold the IAAF presidency after another peer of the realm, Lord Burghley.
Like Lord Burghley – David Cecil, the Sixth Marquess of Exeter, who held the IAAF presidency from 1946 to 1976 – Coe also brings the pedigree of an Olympic gold medallist to the key role of steering the principal Olympic sport.
Lord Burghley won the 400m hurdles in Amsterdam in 1928, Lord Coe the 1500m in Moscow in 1980 and in Los Angeles in 1984. Lord Burghley also delivered a successful London Olympics, as chairman of the organising committee for the 1948 Games, a role Lord Coe fulfilled in 2012. Both, coincidentally, also served as Conservative MPs.
Coe, who set eight world records outdoors and three indoors in the course of his middle distance running career, will take up his post on 31 August, succeeding Lamine Diack at the end of the IAAF World Championships, which open in the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing on Saturday.
Lord Coe described his election as the "second most momentous moment in my life" after the birth of his children. "There is no task in my life for which I have been better prepared,” he said.
Coe's manifesto included proposals to set up an independent anti-doping agency as part of his strident zero tolerance approach to drugs and the possibility of creating a global street athletics circuit, along the lines of the hugely successful, trailblazing City Games events staged by the Great Run Company in Manchester and Newcastle-Gateshead.
“It is about being more creative about the way we deliver the sport, being more creative about how we excite people into it,” said Lord Coe, speaking at the launch of the Morrisons Great Newham London Run in March this year.
“The theatre of the sport must always be the stadium, particularly around world championships, but taking it into the streets, creating opportunities in shopping centres for example, we've got to do this now.
“I'm quite a traditionalist by instinct but we do have to do this differently and we do have to recognise that young people see the world in a very different way.
“There is a twin challenge here – more and more people are running and that's a really good thing, running and participation numbers are up in the UK and around the world. But we've got to continue to make running accessible.
“The great thing about participation runs, the great thing about taking athletics into the streets, is that it sort of democratises it. It makes it accessible.”