Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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Seb Coe, president of track and field’s international governing body, urged for more one-day track and field meets in the U.S. to reconnect American fans with the sport that is mostly contested, at the top level, in Europe.

“You are the powerhouse of track and field. You have been for a long time,” Coe, the 1980 and 1984 Olympic 1500m champion for Great Britain, told Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN on Friday. “But we also need to have the opportunities for American athletes to be earning their crust, to be performing in front of great crowds and audiences in the U.S. At the moment, it’s rather European tilted. So I’m hoping that we can really start developing more one-day meetings in the U.S., which is what you had in the past.”

Coe hopes those meets can be developed between 2022, when the U.S. hosts the world outdoor championships for the first time, in Eugene, Ore., and the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“It’s really important for our sport to have a foothold, more than a foothold, in the U.S.,” he said. “Look, you are the largest global sports market. Athletics needs to be there.”

Currently, one of the 15 annual Diamond League meets is held in the U.S. — the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. The U.S. also had a meet in New York City that was taken off the calendar after 2015.

Meanwhile, Americans earned more than twice as many golds and total medals as the next-best nation at the most recent Olympics (2016) and world championships (2019).

“When I was competing a long time ago, there did seem to be more opportunities for U.S. athletes to be competing on domestic soil,” Coe said. “I would just like to see more opportunities for those athletes to earn a living domestically, and maybe we’ve all taken our eye off the ball a little bit here. We’ve got a strategic plan that we are working our way through at the moment, and a very key indicator there is to try to reconnect more American fans with track and field. … I think it’s not that difficult to reconnect, but I think we’re all going to have to work a little bit harder at that.”

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