Masters track has a mole on IAAF Council — Olympian Willie Banks going to bat for us

Willie Banks and Sebastian Coe were both winners at Doha. Seb was re-elected unanimously as IAAF president.

I had a half-hour call Wednesday with my friend Willie Banks, M60 high jumper and newly elected IAAF Council member. The result was a story in Times of San Diego. I focused on how he won election and what he hopes to do for the sport overseen by the newly renamed World Athletics.

But of course I mentioned my pet peeve — the failure of IAAF world meets to always include masters exhibition events. Beijing and Portland had such events. London and Doha not.

Here’s how ex-prez Stan Perkins reported the situation at 2018 Malaga worlds:

Since the successful participation of Masters Athletes in the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships held in Beijing and the 2016 IAAF World Indoors held in Portland, Oregon, USA, it was disappointing to be denied an invitation for Masters to compete in the 2017 IAAF Championships in London and the 2018 Indoors Championships in the UK. WMA tried hard to change this situation, and were supported by the IAAF Masters Commission but to no avail. We have not given up on this matter and will continue to pursue an involvement in future IAAF World events. No acceptable reasons have been provided to WMA for the exclusion of Masters events from IAAF
Championships.

Willie heard me out, and volunteered more info. He told of his visit with WMA President Margit Jungmann in Doha (she’s apparently on the who-knows-what-it-does IAAF Masters Commission).

Willie told me: “I just met with the new president of the masters, WMA, and she and I had tea together, And I told her I’m extremely supportive. And whatever I can do — they’re only getting like $8,000 a year. [Not sure of that. It was $80,000 five years ago. — ken] We’ve got to do better. I told her that I would be a champion of masters track and field. So don’t worry – I’m right there with you. I even got my WMA pin on my lapel.”

So there you go.

I’m not hoping for miracles, but a seat at the table is always better than being on the menu. And we’ve been an appetizer for decades.

I’ll monitor Willie and the Council and keep you apprised.

Besides masters events at worlds (and even the Olympics), what masters initiatives would YOU like Willie to work on?

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About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at TrackCEO@aol.com or kens@timesofandiego.com. Story tips always welcome!

3 Comments on "Masters track has a mole on IAAF Council — Olympian Willie Banks going to bat for us"

  1. Willie will get the job done for Masters. Give him time to let his voice be heard; in a cadence applause.

  2. Michael Walker | October 10, 2019 at 10:28 am | Reply

    Like Milan, I am confident that Willie can be an effective voice for Masters track & field. One area that I would like to see addressed is the lack of meets for masters in many areas of the country. I live in the Memphis area and the few meets within driving distance are mostly senior games. Very little competition opportunities for anyone under 50. Participation in road races is high compared to T&F perhaps in part to the abundance of races.

    • Jerry Bookin-Weiner | October 10, 2019 at 11:05 am | Reply

      On the World Athletics Council Willie will have no ability to change that. In fact, no one has the ability to change that other than athletes who take matters into their own hands, get involved with their USATF Association (in this case the Tennessee Association) and organize meets themselves. Complaining doesn’t effect change; doing something about it does.

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