Berlin: Former Olympic pole vault champion Sergey Bubka announced on Wednesday he is running for the presidency of world athletics body IAAF, taking on Briton Sebastian Coe in a battle between two of the sport`s greats.
Bubka, who won an Olympic gold medal, six consecutive world championship titles and set 35 world records, wants to lead the International Association of Athletics Federations when President Lamine Diack steps down later this year.
Fellow IAAF vice-president Coe, a double 1,500m Olympic champion and the chief organiser of the London 2012 Olympics, announced his candidacy late last year.
"Following the decision of the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian athletic federation and recommendations of my colleagues and friends from the athletics family, I am announcing my decision to stand as a candidate for the presidency of the IAAF", the Ukrainian said in a statement.
"From the days when I played in the streets of my homeland Ukraine to winning gold medals at world athletics championships, my life has always been about sport," he said.
Bubka, one of the biggest names in athletics, has carved out a successful sports administration career in recent years after dominating his sport for more than a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.
The 51-year-old is head of his country`s Olympic Committee as well as an International Olympic Committee member, who in 2013 made an unsuccessful run for the IOC presidency.
"I am ready to work for the good of athletics at every level. I understand the challenges that athletics faces and the opportunities on a national, regional and international level that we have", Bubka added.
Back when Bubka and Coe were competing, athletics attracted huge TV audiences and often dominated the back pages of newspapers around the world.
Thirty years on, the sport is fighting to make a connection with the next generation.
A dire shortage of recognisable personalities, an ageing audience, a confusing calendar, a continuing struggle to attract interest in the United States and the dark shadow of doping has left athletics fighting for a foothold in an ever-more crowded sporting and leisure landscape.
"We need to seize the opportunity to engage with audiences -- young and old -- and ensure that the IAAF is the best in class in terms of ethics, transparency, commercial management, good governance and upholding the integrity of our sport", Bubka said.
"The IAAF I hope to govern will be a source of pride and inspiration to all who love our wonderful sport," he added. "An IAAF that provides hope, opportunity, innovation, excitement and individual approach to every member federation".