Bayi to attend IAAF Athletics Heritage Mile gala

16Nov 2019
Joseph Mchekadona
The Guardian
Bayi to attend IAAF Athletics Heritage Mile gala

TANZANIA’s athletics legends, Filbert Bayi, is set to jet off to France on Tuesday next week where he will attend the World Athletics Heritage Mile Night gala, which is organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Filbert Bayi

Bayi, who is also Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) secretary general, said in a statement he is delighted to be among the athletics legends who will attend the event slated for Thursday next week.

He said more than a dozen of history’s greatest milers will congregate in Monaco for the World Athletics Heritage Mile Night on November 21 to celebrate the classic middle distance event.

“In the annals of middle distance runners, names of world mile record breakers Peter Snell, Michel Jazy, Jim Ryun, Filbert Bayi, John Walker, Sebastian Coe, Steve Cram, Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj loom large. All nine will be in Le Meridien Beach Plaza Monaco for a historic reunion,” a statement issued by Bayi said.

Also confirmed for the evening gala are two of Ireland’s greatest milers, 1956 Olympics’ 1500m champion Ron Delany and the Chairman of the Boards and indoor mile record breaker Eamonn Coghlan, along with Kenya’s 1968 Olympics 1500m champion Kipchoge Keino,” said part of Bayi’s statement.

He said the event will also be attended by Italian Paola Pigni Cacchi, who set 1500m and mile world records in the late 1960s and early 70s, and her compatriot Gabriella Dorio, the 1984 Olympics 1500m champion.

“Family representatives of Roger Bannister, the world’s first sub-four-minute miler, and Diane Leather Charles, the first woman to run a mile within five minutes, will also attend this historic reception. The event will feature a treasure trove of archive film footage and a display of mile running memorabilia,” he noted in the statement.

He added the mile is the last remaining imperial distance still applicable for world record ratification. The mystique of the mile (1609.344 meters) is the key for it remaining an official record distance.

“Over the course of 160 years of documented record attempts, the mile has lured athletes from across the world to tackle one of the key benchmarks of human athletic achievement,” he disclosed.

Bayi was born in Karatu, Arusha in 1953. He has won many medals at various events, but he set the record on February 2, 1974 in men's 1500m final at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.

It was a race that is often described as the greatest middle distance event of all time. His record time was three minutes and 32.2 seconds.

Part of IAAF’s letter to Bayi acknowledged that, since the federation’s formation in 1912, the men's world mile record has been held by athletes from Algeria, France, Finland, Morocco and Sweden, along with the ones from English-speaking countries, Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Tanzania, and the USA, with whom the mile is arguably more closely associated.

It further said: “The numerous attempts in the first half of the last century to break the four-minute barrier made headlines and dominated news reels across the world. Bannister’s 3:59.4 record set on May 6 in 1954 is arguably one of the greatest sporting moments in 20th century history.”

The record run of fellow Briton Diane Leather Charles later that month, who became the first woman to dip under five minutes (4:59.6 on 29 May), went largely unheralded is a sad reflection of the times but not of her marvelous achievements” said part of the letter.

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