In Summary

  • From 9.30am on Wednesday, Kenya will host the world’s finest young track and field athletes at Kasarani for the 10th IAAF World Under-18 Championships.
  • Sadly, it will be the last under-18 championships after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), at its congress in Rio de Janeiro last year, decided to scrap this age-group championship and focus on beefing up continental/area competitions for the youth.
  • The first under-18 championships were held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 1999 with 1,055 young athletes from 131 countries in action, and the number increased to 1,407 athletes from 153 countries at the last championships in Cali, Colombia.

From 9.30am on Wednesday, Kenya will host the world’s finest young track and field athletes at Kasarani for the 10th IAAF World Under-18 Championships.

Sadly, it will be the last under-18 championships after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), at its congress in Rio de Janeiro last year, decided to scrap this age-group championship and focus on beefing up continental/area competitions for the youth.

The first under-18 championships were held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 1999 with 1,055 young athletes from 131 countries in action, and the number increased to 1,407 athletes from 153 countries at the last championships in Cali, Colombia.

From Wednesday, over 2,000 athletes and officials will parade at Kasarani to mark the final event of a series that has nurtured legends such as Kenenisa Bekele, Vivian Cheruiyot and Keshorn Walcott who all morphed from under-18 world champions into World and Olympic champions in track and field.

It’s not been easy securing these championships for Nairobi. Proudly, I celebrate the fact that having come up with the proposal to have Kenya bid for the championships, which I presented to Athletics Kenya in 2013, things have now come full circle and the action is just hours away!

It makes me truly proud. It took a lot of lobbying to secure the championships and credit must go to the government and Athletics Kenya for making available the finances and personnel to push the bid through in Monaco.

While visualising the championship and presenting the proposal to bid, I had in mind, primarily, the fact that these games will leave behind a big legacy.

Most importantly, new infrastructure will help develop another crop of top athletes that will stand Kenya in good stead in preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and other championships to come.

Already, Kenya’s team to the next month’s senior IAAF World Championships in London will shift their training to the refurbished Kasarani track next week for preparations ahead of the August 4-13 London competition.

They will be spoilt for choice with the main arena track and the warm up track both spanking new. Coaches and medics will agree that the new synthetic tracks laid by Mondo are of the highest quality thus minimising chances of injury for the athletes.

Kenyatta University, the athletes’ village for these championships, is another major beneficiary as it will enjoy the third Mondo track laid on campus.

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