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President Hansen visits Bosnia and Herzegovina

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European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen was part of a delegation that visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday to celebrate a number of milestones in the country’s athletics history.

Along with IAAF President Sebastian Coe, President Hansen celebrated 105 years of organised competitive athletics in the country, the 70th anniversary of the first national championships, 50 years of the Balkan Championships and 20 years since the historic IAAF Solidarity Meeting Sarajevo ’96, which is remembered as the first major athletics meeting to be staged after the end of four years of war in the country.

Among the first stops on the visit was the venue for the 1996 meeting, the Kosovo Stadium in Sarajevo and a major point of discussion was its renovation, which is being assisted by European Athletics and the IAAF.

'I'm glad to be here today, where I have met many old friends and some new ones. I'm sorry that the stadium has deteriorated to what it is like today but I think we can offer a new generation of athletes improved conditions. I am also happy because I have seen many young athletes here,“ commented Hansen, praising the local athletics federation for their commitment to engage the grassroots of the sport and acknowledging the economic difficulties faced in the last 20 years while the country has rebuilt itself.

“I am also impressed that the country has found a role model in Amel Tuka.”

Tuka was the 2015 IAAF World Championships 800m bronze medallist and just missed out on a medal on the continental stage this summer when he finished fourth over two laps of the track at the European Athletics Championships.

“In Tuka, you have an 800m runner who is almost as strong as my friend Sebastian Coe,” added Hansen. “I think he’s going to be at the forefront of his event for many years to come and has a bright future.”

Later, Hansen and Coe – along with Bosnia and Herzegovina athletics federation president Saud Kaknjo – met the country’s Minister for Civil Affairs Adil Osmanović, whose portfolio includes responsibility for sport.

This was followed by a visit to the National Olympic Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the delegation was met by NOC Vice President Sinisa Kisic and Secretary General Said Fazlagić.