2nd March 2009

New IAAF Diamond Series


02 March 2009

British athletics fans will get the chance to see the world’s best athletes going head to head for big money prizes as two of UKA’s biggest meetings were confirmed as part of the IAAF’s new Diamond League announced today.

Britain will be one of only three countries that will host two meetings in the series, with both the Aviva London Grand Prix and Aviva British Grand Prix included. The London event is the only two day meeting in the entire series and UKA will be the only organisation to manage and stage two Diamond League events, which will see the world’s top athletes compete for substantially increased prize money.

UKA Chief Executive Niels de Vos believes the Diamond League represents a huge step forward for the sport.

De Vos said: “I am personally hugely excited by this. And having spoken to our commercial partners, host broadcaster and leading athletes, I know they are too.

“This gives athletics a truly global annual showcase, that will have editorial relevance from May right through to September.

“From a British perspective, we are going to be at the heart of the Diamond League with the Aviva London Grand Prix and Aviva British Grand Prix. For our athletes it will provide great opportunities to compete in regular top flight competition as we build towards the London Olympics in 2012.

“I can only applaud the vision that the IAAF has shown with this initiative and the great support it has given to all the major meeting promoters in improving the product that the sport has to offer.”

Ian Stewart, UKA Meeting Director added: “We already had two of the best athletic meetings in the world in this country with the Aviva London Grand Prix and the Aviva British Grand Prix.

“Being part of the new Diamond League structure will raise the stature of these meetings even further, making them part of a season long narrative in the sport and broadening their global audience. The format which guarantees the world’s best athletes going head to head means British audiences will get to see some fascinating challenges. Of course, British athletes will be part of this ongoing world class series which will enhance our preparation towards 2012.”

Jon Ridgeon, MD at Fast Track, which manages UKA’s major events on behalf of the governing body said: “The Diamond League is perhaps one of the most significant developments in global athletics in recent years  and will secure the sport’s position as the number one Olympic spectacle.  What is so impressive about the Diamond League is the cooperation that all of the world’s top meets have demonstrated in creating this series with the IAAF. We all fundamentally believe in this concept and have signed up to make this new global brand really work and grow for world athletics.”

Martyn Rooney, Britain’s number one 400m runner added: “This sounds like a great opportunity to get more people along to watch athletics and to generate more interest in the sport. It is hugely important for British athletes to take on the best in the world more regularly, rather than only have the opportunity to do so at the major championships.”

The news was also welcomed by the sport’s long-standing commercial partner Aviva, which will continue its title sponsorship of the two UKA grand prix through to 2012.

Gary Pepler, Brand and Communications Director Aviva UK, said:  “Aviva is a global company, so being part of the first truly global series of the world’s leading athletics meetings makes perfect sense for us.

“We have been the major backer for UK Athletics at every level for over a decade, and are proud to have been involved in the ongoing success of the Aviva London Grand Prix and the Aviva British Grand Prix.

“We now look forward to moving forward with them to create yet more opportunities and excitement for British athletes and athletics fans as part of the Diamond League.”

Jayne Sawyer Sponsorship Manager McCain Foods said: "The announcement of the IAAF Diamond League is great step forward for athletics especially in the UK, where McCain have entered into a long term partnership with UKA as Principal Partner.

“Our commitment is to the grass roots of the sport in the UK, helping to develop and nurture talent through the domestic competitive structure. This new IAAF showcase for the sport will ensure that world’s best compete here in the UK regularly and our British athletes can aspire to compete against them as they develop their ambitions and careers."

For more information on the format of the series – please follow this link to the IAAF presentation