Former 1500m world record-holder believes IAAF presidency will be the ultimate test for Coe

Steve Cram believes Sebastian Coe has taken on “his hardest job ever” in becoming president of the IAAF.

The man who brought the Olympic Games to London in 2012 and scaled the heights on the track is very much used to taking on a challenge. However, writing in the special September 29 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine to mark his friend and former British team-mate’s 60th birthday, former 1500m world record-holder Cram believes gauging success in his current role at the very head of the sport will be considerably more difficult for Coe.

“It’s still early days really but he’s trying to make changes and that’s not easy to do in a big, international governing body,” says Cram of the man who was elected IAAF president ahead of Sergey Bubka in August last year. “But they have to be made.

“Had Seb not put his name forward I think we would have been in a more dire position than we are. Yes, the British media are giving him a hard time but, around the rest of the world, I know that people have got a lot of faith and confidence in him.

“But he still has to deliver on that. This may be his hardest job ever. In fact I’m pretty sure it is.

“London had a finite end to it – it had dates when the Games were going to take place. Of course he would be judged on the quality of that but at the end of the day the Games were going to happen and it was either going to be great, brilliant or ok. It turned out to be brilliant.

“His job now, it’s more difficult to judge what success is. There are so many things – ranging from internal governance to the big issues such as drugs and relationships with WADA, relationships with his own national federations and relationships with other sports.

“Then there’s the commercial aspect of our sport – how is it portrayed on television? Where does it sit in the pantheon of world sport? How do we protect that, how do we develop that? Then drilling down into national federations like our own and inspiring young people to come and take part in athletics.

“No man, not even Seb Coe, is going to be able to deliver on all of those things in the timeframe he’s going to have.

“But he is still as passionate on his 60th birthday as he always has been, as we all are, because we know that when it’s good athletics is still a brilliant, brilliant sport that delivers on all levels, as it did in Rio. I think that’s the thing that keeps him going.”

» Read Steve Cram on what it was like to face Steve Ovett and Seb Coe at their peak and how the seeds of a firm friendship were sown in the midst of competition. All in the September 29 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine