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IAAF honours Owens and 11 other with heritage plaques

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MONACO (Reuters) – Global athletics will begin honouring its heritage with plaques at historically significant locations around the world, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced on Sunday.

American sprinter and jumper Jesse Owens, distance runners Paavo Nurmi of Finland and Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia and Dutch sprint-hurdles star Fanny Blankers-Koen are among a dozen athletes selected for the first plaques for achievements at lesser-known stadiums.

“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 said at a special ceremony on Sunday.

Representatives and family members of seven of the athletes presented Coe with historic artefacts from their relatives’ careers for inclusion in the IAAF Heritage Collection.

The plaques will be displayed at a location closely associated with each recipient.

“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,” Coe said.

“There would be no point in us placing plaques on the wall of every Olympic stadium as… these are already well-known landmarks. Instead we are looking to highlight lesser-known locations associated with equally outstanding performances.”

One of those is Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Owens set four world records in the sprints, long jump and hurdles in 45 minutes on one afternoon in 1935. The field is in transition mode with modern athletics facilities opened elsewhere at the University of Michigan.

Others receiving initial plaques and their locations are:

British distance runner Emil Voigt – Manchester Harriers & Athletics Club, England.

Swedish javelin thrower Eric Lemming – Stockholm Olympic stadium.

Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi – Paavo Nurmi Games & Stadium, Turku, Finland.

American hurdler and field events specialist Mildred Didrikson – Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum, Beaumont, Texas.

Japanese long and triple jumper Chuhei Nambu – Meiji Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park, Tokyo.

Dutch sprinter-hurdler Fanny Blankers-Koen – Fanny Blankers-Koen Games & Stadium, Hengelo, Netherlands.

Czech distance runner Emil Zatopek – Golden Spike & Mestsky Stadium, Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Brazilian triple jumper Adhemar Da Silva – Tiete Sports and Leisure Centre, Sao Paulo.

Australian sprinter Betty Cuthbert – Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust, Sydney.

Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila – Abebe Bikila Stadium, Addis Ababa.

Polish sprinter Irena Szewinska – Zawiszy Imienia Stadium, Bydgoszcz, Poland.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Monaco; editing by Clare Fallon)

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