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President's Report for 2010
Inter-Lebanon: Leading Lebanese Track and Field and Road Running Club
Seven years has gone by since Inter-Lebanon Road Running and Athletics Club was created. Despite its youth, the club has managed to gain 1st place in Lebanese athletics, way ahead of established clubs such as the Army Club, Jamhour, Maristes Champville, Ansar etc. Its combined ascendancy (men and women) over the rest of the clubs was comfortably established at the Lebanese Club Championships organized in August 2010 by the Lebanese Athletics Federation (LAF).
Initially Inter-Lebanon was founded as an organizer of road races to answer the passion and needs of road runners. Inter-Lebanon would happily have limited its scope to this activity and abstained from immersion in the closed and stagnant world of Lebanese athletics. However, it quickly became obvious that the founders could not remain indifferent to the neglect and absence of vision that Lebanese athletics has suffered from for so many years. It is because of a genuine passion for sports that the founders of Inter-Lebanon decided to confront the challenges presented by the alarming state of Lebanese athletics.
A new approach was initiated by Inter-Lebanon’s directorate, striving to create in Lebanon a new professional environment in the world of road running as well as track and field; thus awakening hope in athletes and offering them the opportunity to live their dreams.
Having realized the shortfalls of the LAF in planning, building and financing a national team of various age categories according to technical criteria; in supervising the ongoing preparation of this national team; in calling upon the expertise of much needed accomplished trainers; and last, but not least, in scouting and nurturing new young promising talent, Inter-Lebanon invested all its resources in creating an alternative to the inertia which has governed athletics in Lebanon for so long. This alternative integrates under Inter-Lebanon’s flag the great majority of elite Lebanese athletes, thus creating a de facto national team.
This strategy, implemented a couple of years ago, has already proven efficient. A large number of national record holders have enrolled with Inter-Lebanon in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Although there are still a few elite athletes evolving in 5 other clubs, the 12 remaining clubs are totally out of the game. It goes without saying that our doors will always be open to the LAF if they go ahead in implementing a vision and a strategy that all Lebanese athletes crave for. However, in case inertia is still the name of the game, Inter-Lebanon is determined to proceed with a working alternative far removed from political intrigue.
Enough with the preliminaries; here is a brief summary of Inter-Lebanon’s performance so far:
- 8 wins (first Lebanese woman) at each of the 8 editions of the Beirut International Marathon (42.195K). 4 victories for Marie el Amm (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008), 3 victories for Maria Pia Nehme (2005, 2007, 2009) and one for Sonia Wansa Hanna (2010)
- 2nd and 3rd rankings (Lebanese women) at 7 of the 8 editions of Beirut International Marathon and 3rd women’s place at the 8th edition (2010)
- Inter-Lebanon women athletes broke the national marathon record 7 times (4 times Marie el Amm and 3 times Maria Pia Nehme)
- Maria Pia Nehme of Inter-Lebanon is the current marathon national record holder
- Maria Pia Nehme of Inter-Lebanon is the current half-marathon national record holder
- Total supremacy of Inter-Lebanon women athletes in all road races in Lebanon for the past 7 years
- International participation of Inter-Lebanon athletes at many marathons and half-marathons (Boston, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Palermo, Hamburg, Prague, Zurich, and North Carolina)
- Inter-Lebanon organized 45 road races all over Lebanon during the past 7 years
Track and Field:
- Maria Pia Nehme of Inter-Lebanon has broken (twice) and still holds the 3000m national record (2007, 2008)
- Maria Pia Nehme of Inter-Lebanon has broken and still holds the 5000m national record (2007)
- Maria Pia Nehme of Inter-Lebanon has broken and still holds the 10000m national record (2007)
- Maria Pia Nehme of Inter-Lebanon has broken and still holds the 3000m indoor national record (2008)
- Gretta Taslakian of Inter-Lebanon has broken (3 times) and still holds the 60m indoor national record (2010)
- Gretta Taslakian of Inter-Lebanon has broken and still holds the 400m national record (2010)
- Gretta Taslakian of Inter-Lebanon has broken (3 times) and still holds the 100m national record (2010)
- Janet Said of Inter-Lebanon has broken and still holds the javelin national record (2010)
- Abdallah Shaheen of Inter-Lebanon has broken and still holds the hammer national record (2010)
Inter-Lebanon has also succeeded in attracting and signing a large number of elite athletes, 4 of whom are national record holders:
- Jean-Claude Rabbath - national record holder for high jump (outdoor and indoor), Asian games gold medalist in 2006 and Asian championship bronze medalist (indoor) in 2010
- Mirvat Hamzeh - national record holder of 800m, 1500m and 4x400m
- Layla Karhani - shot put national record holder
- Diala el Chab - national record holder of 1000m and 400m hurdles
About 40 elite athletes have joined Inter-Lebanon so far, including young and promising athletes with credible potential such as Mohamad Hannouf (17), Diala el Khazen (19), Ali Saleh (17), and Gabriel Salibi (13). These young athletes are benefiting, and will continue to benefit, from a high level of care and supervision.
2010 proved to be an exceptional year in terms of performance for Inter-Lebanon. Balance sheet:
- 10 national senior records broken (7 by Gretta Taslakian - 3x 60m indoor, 3x100m, 400m; 2 by Abdallah Shaheen - Hammer; 1 for Janet Said - javelin), whereas the other 17 clubs only broke 4 national senior records (Hussein Awadah, Lebanese Army Club - half-marathon and marathon; Oussama Naddaf, Lebanese Army Club - triple jump; and Ahmad Hazer, Ansar Club - 60m indoor hurdles)
- 1 national record in boys 14-15 age category in triple jump (Alaa Itani)
- 1 national record in women’s junior category in long jump (Diala el Khazen)
- 1 regional title (bronze medal) won by Jean-Claude Rabbath at the Asian Indoor Championship in high jump
- 2 gold medals won by Gretta Taslakian in 100m and 200m at the first edition of the West Asian Track and Field Championship
- 2 bronze medals won by Saria Traboulsi and Diala el Khazen in 400m and long jump respectively at the first edition of the West Asian Track and Field Championship
- Overall winner of the Lebanese Clubs Championship in number of points (1st in the women’ competition and 2nd in the men’s competition)
- 1st and 3rd Lebanese women at the BLOM BIM 2010 (Sonia Hanna et Marie el Amm respectively)
- 1st place in the women’s field at the Lebanese Half-Marathon Championship (Melissa Rizk)
- Organized and financed 4 road races: 3rd edition of the ISF half-marathon, 4th edition of Al-Bayroutya exclusive women’s only race (5K) in Downtown Beirut, 3rd edition of Bickfaya Flowers Race, and last but not least, 8th edition of the Mother of all Races, a classic international challenging half-marathon at 2000m altitude organized in the region of Kfardebian.
The challenges lined-up for 2011can be summarized as follows: (a) to attract a larger number of elite athletes with the right stuff (passion, talent, discipline and fair play), (b) to scout and identify new young talents all over the country, (c) to break national records, and (d) to win medals at the Asian Championships and the Arab Games.
It goes without saying that the supremacy of Inter-Lebanon could not have been possible without medical follow-up (vitamins, physiotherapy), adequate training, state of the art equipment, training camps in the USA, Germany, Romania, Turkey, and incentive programs….all financed by Inter-Lebanon.
Obviously such an ambitious program over the past 7 years, and more specifically in 2010, has needed substantial financing. In 2010 Inter-Lebanon’s expenses budget exceeded USD 275,000, which is unheard of in Lebanese track and field so far. The 2011 budget will exceed USD540,000. The club has benefited during the past 7 years from the sporadic but generous support of business partners, namely: Medgulf, Bankers, Nasco Karaoglan, Libano-Française Bank, Fast Mondial, Casino du Liban, Central Bank of Lebanon, Cafe Najjar, Mitchell Group, Red Bull. In 2010 only 4 sponsors stepped in: Bejani & Bejani, Central Bank of Lebanon, Red Bull and Selim Mouzannar Jeweler.
We should not forget or undermine the valuable financial contribution made twice in the past 7 years by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. We hope that in the future we will be able to formalize such contributions on a yearly basis.
However, the main financier of the club at this date remains the President and founder of Inter-Lebanon with a contribution in 2010 exceeding 80% of the expenses.
Inter-Lebanon is going through a phase of mutation and intends to shape itself into a credible, solid and above all long-lasting institution. This road map necessitates institutionalized financing and organization of the club. Long term sustainability cannot rely on the good will of one individual (Roger Bejjani). Ideas are being debated within the club such as: an art book of athletes’ photos to be sold in libraries, fashion shows, fund raising functions….and mainly creating 2 support groups: the first one formed by philanthropists (Inter-Lebanon friends) and the second one formed by corporations interested in building bridges between the business world and Lebanese sport in its most noble facet: athletics.
In line with the above, Inter-Lebanon has designed 3 financial support options:
- Friend: Selected by philanthropists (individuals or institutions) sensitive to the qualitative contribution of Inter-Lebanon to sport in Lebanon and above all to its social and cultural impact. Under this option Friends will financially contribute to Inter-Lebanon. No minimum limit is imposed in terms of contribution. Becoming a Friend will also be equivalent to becoming a fully fledged member of Inter-Lebanon and the friend will earn general assembly rights such as voting and running for office within Inter-Lebanon. The Friend will have the option to request to be listed in the Friends list on the Inter-Lebanon web site.
- Associate: This option offers the opportunity for corporations or brands to associate their trademark with an Inter-Lebanon event(s) and/or athlete(s). In 2011 Inter-Lebanon is organizing a minimum of 6 road races (including 2 international half-marathons and a marathon) and an international track and field record breaking meeting. The Associate’s trademark will be visible at the pre-selected event(s) and/or with the pre-selected athlete(s) all year long. Elite athletes participate throughout the year in a large number of local and international championships in Lebanon and abroad. Additionally, the Associate’s trademark and name will be posted on the Inter-Lebanon web site with a link to the Associate’s site.
- Partner: This option carries a comprehensive mutual undertaking between a corporation and Inter-Lebanon for partnership. The Partner will be visible at all Inter-Lebanon events throughout the year and will also be visible on all Athletes. The Partner will benefit from a limited exclusivity which will prevent any other corporation from the same industry in being accepted as an Associate without the Partner’s written approval. Additionally, the Partner’s trademark and name will be posted on the Inter-Lebanon web site with a link to the Partner’s site.