NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21 –Team Kenya’s class of 2017 IAAF World Under-18 Championships will be under pressure to win the overall title on home soil when the 10th edition will be hosted in Nairobi next year as Athletics Kenya (AK) sweat to select a formidable squad.
Kenya has ruled the world twice in the biannual event, claiming the overall title at the inaugural edition in 1999 and in 2009 which was the best performance ever hauling a total of 14 medals (6 gold, 7 silver, 1 bronze).
Scouting for the best athletes who will be below 18 years next year has began with AK Nairobi chairman, Barnaba Korir who is in charge of youth development confirming they have identified 103 boys and girls after holding a three week camp in Keringet last month.
This came after failing to conduct camps as planned which was to start last year December, to go through in April and August in what Korir said was due to delay of release of funds from the government.
“We started preparing the athletes last year but we were unable to hold several camps as planned because finance was not released on time. In August we were not able to hold camps since we had planned to conduct it in eight regions,” Korir said.
“But we went ahead to organize a camp in Keringet Boarding School where we concentrated mainly on sprinters and field events because that’s where we have weakness. Our target is to field athletes in all the events that will be taking place next year.”
However, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 2017 games led by CEO, Mwangi Muthee were upbeat the funds will be released in time to hold the December camps in various parts of the country.
Athletes who took part at this year’s Secondary and Primary School Games will also be considered with Korir outlining they are monitoring those who finished 1-6 in each event.
“We are targeting to have camps end of November and December in Nairobi, Keringet and other areas. We will continue monitoring those athletes that we have identified as we wait for funds to be availed.”
“In January to April next year before the school closes we will identify others and then we conduct Trials in June to select Team Kenya.”
While admitting there is pressure to excel at home, AK chairman Lt-Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei expressed confidence the team that will be selected will do the country proud.
“We on the other side of Athletics Kenya we have not been left behind, we must prepare Team Kenya to compete with the rest of the world and there is pressure to win since we are hosting the event,” Tuwei stated.
“IAAF will be sending coaches to tutor teams that will be handling Team Kenya and other senior sports in Kenya. When we host residential training at the High Performance Center, those coaches will be part of the quality control programme. We want to make sure we win the championship next year.”
Kenya finished second overall at the 2015 edition in Cali, Colombia with 13 medals, 5 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze.