It’s all systems go as Kenya is set to host the last IAAF World Under 18 (formerly World Youth) athletics championships at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
The five-day contest, which set to commence on (Wednesday) July 12th to 16th will be held in Africa for the second time — after Morocco, Marrakech in 2005.
Last year, world governing body IAAF President Sebastian Coe announced that the IAAF World Youth Championships would be discontinued after Nairobi 2017.
During the bidding process, Athletics Kenya (AK) used the template that successfully hosted the 2010 African Senior Athletics Championships to sell Nairobi as a suitable city to host the global age showpiece with improvements in road and Internet infrastructure as well as expanding hotel industry further bonuses.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts, Dr. Hassan Wario and the then AK president,the late Isaiah Kiplagat on behalf of the Government and federation and IAAF President, Lamine Diack, signed the documents that gave Kenya their second global showpiece after Mombasa held the widely acclaimed World Cross in 2007.
In 2014, on the same day Kenya won the bid during the IAAF Governing Council in Monaco, neighbours Uganda were also granted the rights to stage the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Kampala that incidentally marked a decade since Mombasa hosted the now bi-annual event in 2007 on a roaring day for East African sport.
Doha in Qatar were proclaimed the hosts of the 2019 World Championships with Ostrava, Czech Republic gaining the rights to stage the 2018 Continental Cup that ran in Morocco on September 13-14, 2014.
Initially, Kenya failed to meet the deadline submission of the Event Organization Agreement as well as the guarantees to underwrite the costs of hosting the event from the State forcing IAAF to extend the deadline to October 31.
But once the Government declared its support coupled with the withdrawals of bids from Argentina and USA, it was up to the delegation to Monaco that included former World Youth champion Cherono and retired legendary former women’s World marathon record holder, Tegla Loroupe to deliver.
Japan has followed in the footsteps of Champions USA, New Zealand, Japan, Britain, Australia, Canada and Switzerland have pulled out of the event, citing security concerns.
However, World Under-18 Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee, indicated that there should be no cause for alarm as 130 countries have confirmed participation in the event.
The championship’s patron, Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta allayed fears that the 2017 general elections may affect the championships saying the event has come at the opportune time to unite Kenyans who are usually divided in the run up to polls as sports has always been a unifing factor in the world all over.