BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Vice president of world athletics governing body IAAF Sergey Bubka believes China has potential in athletics and will continue to be successful.
Bubka, 53, former world and Olympic pole vault champion, will visit China for the upcoming Asian Athletics Championships in Wuhan on June 3.
"I'm sure you have infinite potential and China will continue to be successful in athletics," said Bubka in a email to Xinhua on Saturday.
Hours after Bubka's email was sent, China's Su Bingtian clocked 9.99 seconds in the men's 100m at the Diamond League Eugene, becoming the first Chinese to run into 10 seconds.
When asked about China's athletics, which seems not as strong as some other sports like table tennis or diving and only collected six golds in the Olympic history, Bubka has a different opinion.
"I don't see any reason to say that China's athletics isn't strong enough and I rate very highly everything that China has been doing and continues to do for development of our sport inside the country as well as at international level," said the Ukrainian. "The Chinese are always among top athletes, who were taken into consideration by different National Federations when they try to draw up medal plan for World Athletics Championships or Olympic Games."
"Let's look for medal standings of the last three or four Athletics World Championships. China never went below 22nd place. Maybe some people may think that that's bad performance but you have to take into account that more than 200 National Federations represent their athletes at this competition! I think to be in top 20 of such huge list is a good achievement! My own opinion is that people must not to evaluate the status of any sport just by counting Olympic gold medals."
"During my sport career I got 10 world titles and set 35 world records but won the Olympic gold only once. I can say in all modesty I didn't think my career was not strong enough. What I see now is that China faces the future with confidence, developing our sport."
Bubka, who is contending for the IAAF president, praised China's effort in developing athletics.
"The IAAF appreciates your country's efforts to develop athletics and the best indicator of our confidence is the number of major athletics events hosted by different Chinese cities," he said.
China's star hurdler and Athens Olympic champion Liu Xiang announced his retirement in April, and Bubka believes that there will be a new idol in China's athletics.
"The importance of personalities as role models in the development of athletics cannot be overestimated," he said. "Liu Xiang had a prominent career and became the idol for many Chinese children and young people who took up athletics to follow in his footsteps. But nobody can continue their sports career by endlessly being at the top. Sooner or later Liu Xiang had to stop performing but I'm so sorry he has had to do it during the current season when Beijing will host the World Athletics Championships."
"Liu Xiang isn't the only athletics star in your country. China has an incredibly strong race walk team and women hammer throw stars Wenxiu Zhang and Zheng Wang. They are both not far from the hammer throw world record and I don't see any reason why they cannot replace Liu Xiang as new idols for the young generation."
Bubka emphasizes the importance of anti-doping in developing the young generation in Athletics.
"China's anti-doping program for youth should be one of the country's priorities if you want to prepare top athletes," he said. "Doping can destroy not only the reputation of sports but also the athletes and their bodies. We have to educate athletes at a very young age and make sure that they are careful."
"No athlete thinks about doping when she or he is 14. This is when we have to educate them, to guide them. We need to explain to them the truth and always ask which way they want to choose: the way of the cheaters or the way of genuine future champions? We should build strong anti-doping educational programs and make it clear for athletes starting from their first steps in our sport."
Bubka said the IAAF will continue to work consistently on adapting the athletics competition regulations as well as improving the competition format.
"We had great experience at the Youth Olympic Games with mixed-gender relays. We started with youth and we can start with juniors and maybe in future to mixed gender relays in senior athletics," he said. "Why not, if it interesting and enthralling and can take athletics to new heights. We are open and we are very transparent."