Monaco - American sprint legend Jesse Owens was among 12
athletics stars whose feats at lesser known stadiums were honoured as part of a
new initiative launched by track and field's governing body on Sunday.
An IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque will be erected in
Owens' honour at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan - now home to the
University of Michigan Wolverines.
Owens famously set four world records in 45 minutes at Ferry
Field on one afternoon in 1935, a year before he starred at the Berlin Olympics
when he won four golds in front of Adolf Hitler.
In all, the IAAF unveiled 11 other locations covering all
six IAAF continental areas, directly associated with the inaugural recipients
of the plaques.
"The IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque is a
location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together
iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, performances, cities,
venues, landmarks and culture around the world," IAAF president Sebastian Coe
"An uniquely designed plaque will be permanently and
publicly displayed at a location closely associated with each recipient."
Owens aside, other recipients include four women.
American Mildred Didriksen, who won two golds and a silver
in the 80m hurdles, javelin and high jump at the 1932 Games, is honoured along
with Fanny Blankers-Koen, the famed "Flying Housewife" from the
Netherlands who won four gold medals at the 1936 and 1948 Games.
Also included are Australian Betty Cuthbert, winner of four
sprint gold medals between 1956-64, and Poland's Irena Szewinska, the only
athlete to set 100m, 200m and 400m world records who bagged three gold, two
silver and two bronze medals at Olympics between 1964-76.
Male athletes are represented by Britain's Emil Voigt, who
won gold in the 5 mile race in the 1908 Olympics, Swedish javelin thrower Eric
Lemming, a four-time gold medallist from 1906-12, Finnish middle-distance
legend Paavo Nurmi, who amassed a remarkable nine gold and three silver medals
in three Olympics from 1920-28, and Czech long-distance runner Emil Zatopek,
who won four golds and one silver between 1948-56.
Asia is represented by Japan's 1932 triple jump gold
medallist Chuhei Nambu, the first athlete to hold world records in both horizontal
jumps, while South America also have a triple jumper honoured in the shape of
Adhemar Da Silva, double gold medallist in 1952 and 1956. Africa features
through Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, who won marathon golds in 1960 and 1964.
"The launch of this award is an exciting day for our
sport as we begin to link together the competitions, personalities and
performances worldwide which have played an important role in athletics rich
history," Coe said.
"It is important for our sports future that we
recognise that legacy."
Coe added: "There would be no point in us placing
plaques on the wall of every Olympic stadium as, while they have been the scene
of countless epic competitions at the pinnacle of our sports history, these are
already well known landmarks.
"Instead we are looking to highlight lesser known
locations associated with equally outstanding performances.
"Many of the stadiums and tracks which we recognise
today have already vanished and these plaques will be a permanent reminder of
the incredible athletics deeds which took place at those locations."