Dina Asher-Smith and Richard Whitehead have called on the British public to be at the heart of London 2017 as organisers open the volunteering programme

The London 2017 organising committee has launched its search for ‘Runners’ – the volunteer programme for the World ParaAthletics Championships and IAAF World Championships.

Up to 4000 volunteers will be at the heart of the championships, helping to deliver the event in the Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and across London.

It is anticipated that up to half of the ‘Runners’ will be from the grassroots of athletics across the UK. Others will be invited through a national campaign, with the aim of retaining those people in the grassroots of the sport beyond 2017 as part of the event’s legacy.

Dina Asher-Smith volunteered at the London 2012 Olympic Games and was a kit carrier. She said: “The athletes at London 2017 will produce incredible moments which will last a lifetime, but it is the volunteers who will make the event feel truly special.”

The British 100m and 200m record-holder added: “This really is something that lies close to my heart because not only have I been helped by volunteers, I was a volunteer at London 2012. I know how great London 2012 was and it was made even better by the fact that I was a kit carrier and able to be pretty much front line for the action, the best seats in the house.

“It’s great to think that 4000 more people are going to have the same chance five years later.”

Volunteers will play a key role in the running of the 20 days of the championships with a range of roles including transport, way-finding, meet and greet and accreditation.

Recruitment begins on Tuesday (June 28) with an online application process where members of athletics clubs and the general public can register their interest in becoming a ‘Runner’ at www.london2017athletics.com/volunteer. Details of the application form will be sent in early autumn 2016.

Selection centres will take place before the end of 2016, with successful ‘Runners’ to be confirmed in early 2017.

The IAAF World Championships and World ParaAthletics Championships will be held in the same city in the same year for the first time ever and will be the biggest celebration of athletics since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Richard Whitehead, the reigning Paralympic, world and European T42 200m champion, believes that volunteers are at the heart of any successful sporting event.

“For me, volunteering is one of the pillars of sport and without that pillar sport couldn’t hold itself up,” he said.

“In 2012, the Games Makers were instrumental in creating the incredible atmosphere at the Paralympic Games. Their sense of fun and level of professionalism made the event come alive in a way that had never been seen before.

“It gave such a positive endorsement for Paralympic sport on a global platform and I am both grateful to and passionate about supporting the volunteer programme.”

Cherry Alexander, managing director at London 2017, said: “Everyone remembers the Games Makers at London 2012. They were brilliant. They added so much to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and we want to see that spirit recaptured at London 2017.

“There are many brilliant people all over the UK who make sport work on the ground every day. We want them to come forward to be part of this amazing event. The volunteers will be one of the reasons why this will be the best ever world championships.”

The London 2017 volunteer programme, ‘Runners’, is being delivered in partnership by London 2017 and by Team London, the Mayor of London’s volunteering programme. Team London built on the movement of volunteering delivered by the 2012 Games, creating programmes that have engaged nearly one million Londoners and led London to become European Volunteering Capital 2016.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Volunteering is a wonderful and rewarding way to make a real difference in our great city. As well as building stronger communities and ‎helping people to get to know and help their neighbours, it makes us a friendlier and more welcoming place to live in and visit.

“I’m delighted that Team London will be leading the way in giving our London 2017 visitors a very warm welcome, and ensuring everyone has an enjoyable time at the games and makes the most of what the capital has to offer.‎”