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24 Jun 2005
IOC News , museum-news-articles

Athletissima: three decades one meeting

Athletissima, Lausanne’s famous athletics meeting, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This is the occasion for the Olympic Museum to retrace the magical moments of this great adventure. The “Athletissima turns 30” exhibition contains three sections of large boards with striking photos. Images on TV screens, shoes, and other accessories complete the picture.
The birth of a tradition – 1977-1985
The starting gun for what would become Athletissima was fired on 8 July 1977 in pouring rain. The stoical spectators encouraged the athletes throughout the evening. The athletes, who were won over by the crowd’s enthusiasm, proposed coming back a month later. And on 3 August, almost 10,000 enthusiastic spectators came to Vidy. The tradition was born! This first period ended in 1985 with the adieu to the Coubertin Stadium, which could no longer cope with the demands linked to the organisation of a high-level meeting. Farewell to the Lausanne International Meeting, and long live Athletissima!
Athletissima’s name in golden lights on Planet Athletics – 1986-1994
Now high up in the city, in the Pontaise Olympic Stadium, this athletics meeting is a guaranteed success. Straightaway, American Edwin Moses ran the 400 metres hurdles in 47.38, Swiss shot-putter Werner Günthör made a throw of 21.36m, and pole-vaulter Philippe Colet cleared 5.80m! Then came Carl Lewis, Ben Johnson, Sergey Bubka, Heike Drechsler, Gail Devers, and finally Leroy Burrell, who gave Athletissima its first world record. On 7 July 1994, he ran the 100 metres in 9.85. The crowd went wild!
Athletissima, glory days – 1995-2004
The 1995 edition, and the following ones, confirmed the speed of the stadium’s track, and the passion of Swiss and foreign spectators for Lausanne’s meeting. Great performances came one after the other, and the world’s best athletes confirmed their supremacy: Stéphane Diagana, Frank Fredericks, Ato Boldon, Michael Johnson, Maurice Greene, Gail Devers, and Kenenisa Bekele, to name but a few. 
Athletissima now seems to be a permanent fixture, and this exhibition pays a vibrant tribute to it!

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