Aarhus World Cross chief organiser to lead management and coordination of the global athletics calendar
Jakob Larsen, the chief organiser of the popular and innovative World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, last year, has been appointed director of competition and events for World Athletics.
Ahead of the global cross-country event last March, AW editor Jason Henderson said Larsen “could go down in history as the man who saved the World Cross”.
The event, which featured elite and mass races on a challenging course with various themed zones, was a great success and now Larsen will turn his attention to leading the management and coordination of the global athletics calendar following his role as CEO of the Danish Athletic Federation for the last 12 years – a period which also saw the staging of the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen.
“This is a real honour for me,” said Danish national Larsen, who was selected for the position from a list of 74 candidates from more than 20 countries.
“I have worked across many facets of sport over the last 25 years – from research and analysis to delivering events at all levels, coaching and running a national sports federation.
“Athletics is a sport I love and I am joining a world-class team operating on a global stage in the most participated sport in the world.
“It is a dream come true and I am looking forward to being part of the team that creates and delivers the changes that will see athletics grow from strength to strength.
“With 214 member federations I can’t think of a stronger global network to work alongside to deliver this growth.”
As part of his role, Larsen will chair the newly-formed Global Calendar Unit. The Unit, which is currently chaired by World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon, has been established to lead, manage and coordinate all parts of the global athletics calendar from world to national championships and all competitions in between.
“Its aim is to create a three to four year long-term, constantly updated global calendar to make the competition schedule across the globe easier to understand and follow for all stakeholders,” said the world governing body.
Unit members include Cherry Alexander (GBR, European Athletics competition chair), Alfonz Juck (SVK, Euro Meetings president), Jean Pierre Schoebel (MON, Wanda Diamond League representative), Anna Riccardi (ITA, World Athletics Council and former chair of the European calendar working group), Duffy Mahoney (USA, USATF chief of sport performance)
Michael Serralta (PUR, Competition Director NACAC), Yukio Seki (JPN, JAAF international relations director), Yvonne Mullins (AUS, Oceania general secretary), Helio Gesta de Melo (BRA, CONSUDATLE president) and Jackson Tuwei (KEN, Athletics Kenya president).
“Jakob’s skills and experience across our sport are rare and valuable,” said Ridgeon. “He combines incredible knowledge of athletics, having run a member federation, hosted world championships, one-day meetings, park and road events, with creativity and innovation which is critical to the journey we are on to grow athletics.
“Jakob’s background in running high-performance programmes, coaching, developing schools’ tournaments and scientific research gives him a unique perspective on our sport from the playground to the podium,” he added. “We are delighted to welcome him to his new role at a time when we are focussing on our global calendar, defining our core product and expanding our one-day meetings. Jakob will be a real asset.”
Larsen will take up his position in early April and will be based in Monaco at World Athletics head office.