Nigeria’s Rilwan Alowonle failed in his bid to get elected as a member of the World Athletics Athletes’ Commission in the election held at the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
In the results released by World Athletics on Friday, New Zealand’s Dame Valerie Adams, Renaud Lavillenie from France, Jamaica’s Aisha Praught-Leer, USA’s Jasmine Todd and Adam Gemili from Great Britain and Northern Ireland were the six athletes elected to join the commission.
All athletes accredited for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest had the right to vote in this year’s elections.
To be eligible to be voted for, athletes needed to have competed in at least one of the past two editions of the World Athletics Championships, or in the most recent Olympic Games, or be a competitor at this year’s World Athletics Championships.
The World Athletics introduced a new method of voting, with athletes voting electronically on portable voting devices, rather than via paper ballots for the first time.
The new members of the Athletes’ Commission join Ivet Lalova-Collio (Bulgaria), Anna Ryzhykova (Ukraine), Lea Sprunger (Switzerland), Lisanne de Witte (Netherlands), Matthew Hughes (Canada) and Toshikazu Yamanishi (Japan) – who were elected last year in the board.
Alowonle was hoping to be the only African in the Athletes’ Commission with Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou and South Africa’s Akani Simbine whose tenure were expiring.
“Six additional Athletes’ Commission members will be appointed by the World Athletics Council over the course of the next month to bring the number back to its intended 18.
“The Chair and Deputy Chair positions will be voted on by the Athletes’ Commission once the membership is finalised.
“Since 2019, the Chairperson and one other member of the Athletes’ Commission – one woman and one man – have been full voting members of the World Athletics Council,” the WA said.
Alowonle in an interview with Bold Sports had shared his visions if elected a member of the Athletes’ Commission. One of this was to use his background as a Marketing and Consulting Strategist for professional services firms around the world help the World Athletics grow the sport, to bring the level of excitement outside of the Olympics to the sport at a consistent level, using the followership of popular and known athletes.
“I see track and field has a lot of potential. If you look at the Olympics and how popular the sport is for that small window every four years, there is a lot of excitement for athletics in that small window. But I think there is a major opportunity to elevate the sport in that window.
“You have to do two things there; promote individual athletes, and you want to make sure you are promoting the sport as a whole. When you have some athletes that are generational, it will bring more eyeballs. Similar to when Usain Bolt was in the sports, people were going to watch the Olympics the more. However, that’s a great opportunity for World Athletics to start capturing casual fans. So that when Usain Bolt retired, ideally you would have hoped to pick up new fans.
“I would have World Athletics continue to grow the sport, to bring the level of excitement outside of the Olympics to the sport at a consistent level. I think there are a lot of opportunities to do that,” he told Bold Sports.
Reacting to his loss at the polls, Alowonle wished the winners well in representing the interests of the athletes.
“Yes, not the results we hoped for but congratulations to the others who were elected. I know they will also do a great job representing the athletes as well,” he told Bold Sports.