Top athletes in Durban for international conference

Marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto of Kenya is among the top guests that have arrived in Durban ahead of the inaugural Global Athletics Conference (GAC) that starts at the coastal city today.

Kimetto - who is in the running for the IAAF athlete of the year - was introduced to the media yesterday alongside four-time Olympics medallist Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as American heptathlon icon Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

The group will be joined by recently crowned New York Marathon champion Wilson Kipsang, who will also form part of the star-studded speakers and panelists at the two-day gathering at the Sibaya Casino.

Kipsang was expected to arrive from Nairobi last night.

The conference is set to bring together some of the world’s most experienced athletics minds to share their knowledge and insights with African stakeholders to build capacity and improve the standard of athletics, as well as the commercial aspect of the sport.

Said Boldon at yesterday's media briefing: "The market will dictate the sales of your product and the public's response in kind. That's one of the things that will be a theme of what we will be doing for the next two days. If you love something you are supposed to be critical about it. I believe that there are some things that still make us (athletics) the greatest sport."

Boldon, a former sprinter who is now a track and field TV analyst, said the business of sport has to start with an honest conversation.

"Does our product present an attractive image to those who love it like us or those who may not? Hopefully at the end of these two days there will be further discussion."

Kimetto, whose aggressiveness on the road belies his quite character, said he was also hoping that his story will inspire athletes in South Africa and across the continent.

The 30-year-old set a new marathon mark of 2:02:57 at the Berlin Marathon last month, the first man to clock a sub-2:03 over 42km.

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