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The IAAF are very pleased to welcome Pirelli as title sponsor of the 25th IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

The recent partnership of Pirelli with the International Amateur Athletics Federation which started in Paris on the occasion of the World Indoor Championships continues with this major international competition, in accordance with Pirelli’s traditional association with the highest levels of sporting prowess.

Pirelli has always kept a weather eye on the world of athletics and its champions. After the mythical Carl Lewis, who ran on water and bounded from skyscraper to skyscraper in Pirelli advertisements, it is the turn of Marie-Josť Perec, the magnificent French sprinter double gold medallist in the Atlanta Olympics at 200m and 400m - who will be escaping the clutches of monsters of ice, fire and water in the latest advertising campaign.

Pirelli is looking forward to this exciting new venture into the world of athletics, the queen of the Olympics, whose values of deep dedication, loyal competition and continual challenge are closely akin to the spirit of Pirelli.

Pirelli’s association with sport goes back a very long way. In 1907 Prince Scipione Borghese and journalist Luigi Barzini, aboard their Itala car, won the crazy race between Paris and Peking. After crossing the finishing line, the Prince telegraphed Pirelli and complimented him on the excellent performance of his tyres: "We used only sixteen!" Using similar tyres, French driver Georges Boillot won the French Grand Prix in 1913 in a Peugeot: the first Grand Prix in history.

Ninety years have passed, ninety years which have formed the sporting image of Pirelli. But the benefits derived from competition are certainly as precious for their technical and technological contributions as they are from a marketing standpoint - competition offers the greatest "laboratory" for active development and experimentation, flanking the work carried out in the company’s research facilities around the world.

Until 1994, Pirelli was officially absent from top level competition. Since the company’s return to the world rally circuit with the Subaru 555 in 1994, three world titles have been won on Pirelli tyres: 1995 and 1996 Constructor’s title and 1995 world champion with Colin McRae. In the IMSA Pirelli shod the winning Ferrari team with driver Firmin Velez and in 1996 won two further titles with the Riley & Scott-Oldsmobile team with driver Wayne Taylor.

Three victories in the World Rally Series in 1997 have taken Pirelli’s record to 100 victories in this prestigious event since its inception in 1973.

Since 1995 Pirelli has further expanded its sporting interests beyond the field of motor sports, by becoming the major sponsor of the Inter-Milan football club. "Inter" as the club is popularly known is one of the top Italian sides and a prime contender for both the Italian championship title and the UEFA cup.

A final curiosity linking Pirelli to the history of Athletics: in the 1948 London Olympics, where Fanny Blankers-Koen was crowned as the "Flying Dutch-woman" after her four gold medals (100m and 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay), the discus was won by one Adolfo Consolini. He worked at Pirelli.



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All photographs © 1997 Allsport.