NAIROBI, November 18- It’s now official. The 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships will be held in Nairobi, Kenya after the country’s successful bid for the biennial age group global showpiece was announced Tuesday night in Monaco.
On a busy day for the IAAF Governing Council, neighbours Uganda were also granted the rights to stage the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Kampala that will incidentally mark a decade since Mombasa hosted the now bi-annual event in 2007 on a roaring day for East African sport.
Earlier, Doha were proclaimed the hosts of the 2019 World Championships with Ostava gaining the rights to stage the 2018 Continental Cup that ran in Morocco in September.
Kenya will take over the World Youth baton from the Colombian city of Cali next year with 239 days to go before the next running of a championships that gave the world a first glimpse of among a plethora of great athletes, Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt and recently, Commonwealth champions Mercy Cherono and Faith Chepng’etich.
“It’s now official Kenya has won the bid to host the World Youth Championships in 2017. Thanks to all those who supported us in all ways. It’s all for Kenya,” Athletics Kenya (AK) chief executive officer, Isaac Mwangi, posted on his Face Book wall moments after the country’s bid team received the rights.
The uplifting news stirred up the athletics fraternity with two-time World men 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop among the first to toast the momentous occasion that sees the country with a strong distance running tradition welcome the world to her first ever global track and field meeting.
“The youth of the world coming to Kenya for the track and field world championship! Wow!” exclaimed the lanky athlete, 25, who made his name after striking gold for Kenya at the 2007 World Cross men’s junior 8km race in Mombasa told Capital Sport online before later bagging the top medal at the All Africa Games in Algiers over 1500m as a teenager.
“It will be great and inspiration to the youth in Kenya,” he added.
Continental Cup and African steeplechase champion, Jairus Birech, who was shortlisted for the World Athlete of the Year and was part of the travelling party to Monaco simply enthused, “We’ve won! Time to celebrate,” as he painted the ecstatic mood among the Kenyan bid team.
Other Kenya’s took to social media to celebrate another landmark day for the country’s sport that came only a day after it emerged the nation’s bid to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations fronted by Football Kenya Federation had failed at the first hurdle.
“Congratulations. It’s all for Kenya. Work smart, have a united team to get best results possible,” veteran hockey administrator, Peter Kiruma posted.
“Congratulations TEAM KENYA – Kenya is an athletic powerhouse and it is only fitting that the world of athletics recognizes that. More importantly, we have to act the part! Well done!!,” public relations guru Charles Gacheru offered.
“Now this is how it’s done! Congratulations to all involved. Let’s do this…….for our Kenyan youth and for Kenya at large,” John Kabubu remarked with another, John Kiai adding, “Home of the champions, we will show them dust.”
Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts, Dr. Hassan Wario and AK president, 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.
The 2010 Africa Athletics Championships held at a parked Nyayo Stadium served as a template of the country’s capital’s ability to stage the event that attracted over 150 nations and 1,500 participants in the last edition in Donetsk, Ukraine last year.
Kenya once again excelled as is the nation’s tradition, finishing second overall behind Jamaica but with more medals overall; 11 to eight in total but the sprint kings won on the count of six to four gold.
Organisers of the Nairobi 2017 World Youth whose patron is First Lady Margaret Kenyatta have budgeted $8.9 million (Ksh800m) to successfully stage the event.
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.
And after a daylong anxious wait, the country finally cocked open the champagne.