9th August 2022


Respected official Alan Bell (GBR) has been elected Vice President of Competition for World Masters Athletics (WMA) and will serve a four-year term in the role.

Bell, a member of North Shields Polytechnic, has been an athletics’ official for over 40 years and was Chief Starter at the London 2012 Olympics. He started the 100m final at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin where Usain Bolt clocked a world record time of 9.58. He also memorably disqualified Bolt for a false start at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

His WMA selection is credit to his dedication to athletics over that period and his commitment to improving the standards and skills of those he works alongside, including – notably – at the World Masters Athletics Championships on his home patch in Gateshead in 1999 where his involvement in the global age-group showpiece first began.

“The amount of day-to-day organisation in the build-up was enormous and they needed someone to be on the ground locally,” he recalls. “I was the local senior official in the north east of England at the time, I still am, so I stepped in to help Gateshead Council, although back then I didn’t really know what it entailed.

“It was nearly an impossible organisational task. In the end we had three stadiums working full-time. I cut my teeth on that, and more by good luck than good management it was a huge success.”

Since then, Bell has worked at every World Masters Athletics Championships to date with the exception of San Sebastien in Spain (2005) where they worked with Basque officials only. He has been Competition Director since 2009.

In a parallel career, he has also worked consistently as an international starter for World Athletics (formerly IAAF), as well as at local league races and schools’ events.

Margit Jungmann, President, World Masters Athletics, said: “We are delighted to announce Alan as our Vice President of Competition. This is an exciting time for WMA as the quality and depth of competition continues to increase across our events. Alan’s experience and commitment will be crucial as we continue to grow, and I’m confident he can bring WMA to a new level.”

Bell said: “It’s a huge privilege to be elected Vice President of Competition. The standard of Masters’ athletics is improving all the time and our negotiations with World Athletics regarding integration of races at championship events are reflective of that growth, as well as our ambition. I believe my technical background in the sport is an advantage in those negotiations.

“Going forward, I’m not sure how much I’ll be involved as an official starter, but it’s wonderful, and I still get a buzz from it. That’s why I still do the kids’ races in the park. I was Chief Starter at the Olympic Games in London, which is still the best experience I’ve ever had apart from the birth of my kids. I’ve done everything in the sport, but to do the Olympic Games for our own people was just off the scale. I remember we had maybe ten days before the Paralympics started and on the Wednesday between the two Games, I went down and did the local Tyneside track league in Jarrow. I was greeted at the gate by organiser Bill McGuirk, and he was laughing. He said, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’. I said, ‘Come on, this is where it all started, and if I can’t put something back in there’s something wrong’. That’s always been the philosophy I’ve had.”

“I still do a lot of officials’ training in the UK and for World Athletics, too, which is probably where my skill set should be directed given my experience. By doing that, I like to think I’m also having a little bit of an influence on the next generation.”

Bell’s first event in his new role is the World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships in Toruń, Poland in 2023. He has confirmed he will step down after one term which will end in Daegu in 2026.