Vevey – Switzerland, July 05, 2013: Seven world-class athletes joined dozens of young children today for an athletics competition held in the grounds of the Nestlé headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, situated on the banks of the picturesque Lake Geneva.
It was one of the latest initiatives as part of the partnership between IAAF Kids’ Athletics and the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme, the aim of which is to promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle by increasing the participation levels in school sports.
And what better way to inspire a host of young children to lead an active life than to take part in an athletics competition alongside some of the world’s best athletes?
Two-time Olympic Javelin champion Andreas Thorkildsen, 2005 World 400m Hurdles champion Bershawn Jackson, Olympic Discus champion Sandra Perkovic, World and Olympic Triple Jump champion Christian Taylor, three-time World Shot Put champion Werner Günthör and 1997 World bronze medallist Anita Weyermann were each captains of a team of children.
The teams then competed in a series of events which covered all the core skills of athletics – running, jumping and throwing.
Ato Boldon, the 1997 World 200m champion and now a respected broadcaster, was present at the event as the presenter of IAAF Inside Athletics. “For the current generation of children, there are more distractions than ever and kids are spending more time indoors,” he said. “This is what makes events like this so important, because it encourages kids to go outside and do something active.”
Weyermann, who has a daughter and is currently expecting triplets, enjoyed the day almost as much as the children did. “It’s very engaging and a really fun event – that’s the key to keeping children’s enjoyment in the sport,” she said.
“These are core skills on which every child can build, whatever their sport,” added Günthör.
Taylor echoed that, adding: “These events replicate a lot of what I do in training today. They’re the basic elements of athletics.”
Perkovic was keen to underline the importance of trying as many events as possible. “I only concentrated on the Discus when I was 15 years old, so it’s important that kids experience lots of different events before specialising, just as we’re seeing today.”
Jackson, whose eight-year-old daughter is currently ranked No.1 in the US in her age group with times of 14.5 in the 100m and 30.5 in the 200m, was delighted to be involved. “I love kids, so I feel right at home here,” he said.
Thorkildsen wowed the children by throwing the vortex javelin across the length of the lawn. “I think it’s really important to try to inspire children,” he said. “It’s something other countries can look at and try to replicate.”
IAAF Kids’ Athletics, created in 2005, is one of the biggest grassroots development programmes in the world of sports, having been activated in more than 120 of the IAAF’s 212 national member federations.
The Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme reached more than 5.4million children across 64 countries in 2012 and the programme is expected to be implemented in 80 countries by 2015.
In January 2012, Nestlé and the IAAF announced a five-year global partnership, allowing the IAAF to reach a larger number of children while strengthening the physical activity component in the Nestlé Healthy Kids programmes.
“As part of our commitment to be the recognised nutrition, health and Wellness Company, we are pleased to partner with the IAAF Kids’ Athletics programme,” said Chris Johnson, Executive Vice President Zone Americas, Nestlé. “It will encourage school children to participate in athletics and learn more about sport, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.” —- IAAF/ Image © Jiro Mochizuki