New Zealand's champion shot-putter Dame Valerie Adams has made history by becoming one of the first active athletes to join the World Athletics Council as a full voting member.

The newly elected Athletes' Commission has selected world pole-vault record holder Renaud Lavillenie as the new chairperson and Adams as the deputy chairperson, and they will become the two athlete representatives on the Council for the next four years.

Adams, who is serving her second term on the Athletes' Commission, said she completely supported Lavillenie as chair and was delighted to see two athletes included in the Council.

"It's important to have those two votes in the Council because without athletes there is no athletics," she said. "We are just the mouthpiece for the athletes around the world, but it's important for us to have that voice."

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Frenchman Lavillenie and Adams led the ballot when six new members were elected to the Athletes' Commission during the World Championships in Doha in September-October. Nearly two-thirds of the 1833 athletes present in Doha cast votes.

Distance runner Bernard Lagat (USA), 400m runner Kevin Borlee (BEL), pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi (GRE) and middle distance runner Aisha Praught-Leer (JAM) were also elected, and attended their first Athletes' Commission meeting in Monaco today.

They joined six serving members with two years left on their terms - Inaki Gomez (CAN), Kim Collins (SKN), Adam Kszczot (POL), Thomas Rohler (GER), Ivana Spanovic (SRB) and Benita Willis (AUS).

Six further members were recently appointed to the Commission by the Council - Majd Eddin Ghazal (SYR), Olga Rypakova (KAZ), Akani Simbine (RSA), Su Bingtian (CHN), Milcah Chemos Cheywa (KEN) and Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV).

The Council is able to appoint up to six extra members to ensure that there is sufficient diversity within the athlete group to represent all disciplines and areas of the world.

The importance of athletes to decision-making within World Athletics was recognised and enshrined in legislation as part of the governance and integrity reforms approved in December 2016.

Under the 2019 Constitution, the Chairperson and one other member of the Athletes' Commission - one male and one female - become full voting members of the IAAF Council.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe welcomed Lavillenie and Adams to the 26-member Council, saying he expected they would make a substantial contribution to the sport's decision-making body.

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"Since my own competition days, I have been a strong advocate for athletes having a voice within sport," Coe said. "We want our athletes to be leaders and to contribute their opinions on the issues and challenges we face in steering a global sport with 214 member countries in a rapidly changing world. That will only make athletics stronger and more relevant to coming generations."