Owens, Nurmi among first in IAAF Hall of Fame

ISTANBUL Thu Mar 8, 2012 6:44am EST

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - American sprinter Jesse Owens and Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi were among the first 12 athletes to be inaugurated into the IAAF Hall of Fame, president Lamine Diack said on Thursday.

A total of 24 athletes, representing all major event groups, will become members in 2012, the centenary year of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"The creation of the IAAF Hall of Fame, which has long been a vision of the sport's world governing body is an excellent way not only to honor the lifetime achievements of our greatest athletes but also to heighten public awareness of our sport and its rich history," Diack said in a statement on the eve of the world indoor championships in Istanbul.

To be considered for the Hall of Fame, athletes must have been retired for at least 10 years, have won two or more Olympic or world titles and set at least one world record.

The names of the other 12 athletes due to be inducted will be announced by the IAAF throughout the year. Inaugural 12 athletes: Jesse Owens (U.S.), Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia), Paavo Nurmi (Finland), Carl Lewis (U.S.), Emil Zatopek (Czechoslovakia), Al Oerter (U.S.), Adhemar da Silva (Brazil), Ed Moses (U.S.), Fanny Blankers-Koen (Netherlands), Betty Cuthbert (Australia), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (U.S.), Wang Junxia (China)

(Reporting by Alison Wildey, editing by Ed Osmond)

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