Retired former world marathon record holder and International Olympic Committee Member, Paul Tergat; on Thursday urged feuding factions in Athletics Kenya (AK) to bury the hatchet and focus on hosting a memorable World Youth Championships in 2017.
The track legend further challenged Government, federation and other stakeholders to use Kenya’s winning bid to host the biennial global IAAF World Athletics Series track and field age group showpiece as a launch pad for an eventual bid for the greatest sporting event on earth, IOC Summer Olympics Games.
“I’m a guy who dreams big from small starts. It is not too far for us to push as country to get the Olympics. South Africa proved Africa is capable by holding the World Cup.
“But first, we must showcase our organisation ability by holding a successful World Youth to show the world what we can do as a country that is respected for athletics. We should show everyone the confidence we have in us to put up such an event,” Tergat who ran 2:04:55 at the 2003 Berlin Marathon to set the world record told supersport.com.
The announcement of Kenya being handed hosting rights for the 2017 World Youth on Tuesday came against fierce in-fighting in AK with a High Court in the country stopping a planned Special General Meeting (SGM) last Friday that was meant to overthrow long-serving president and IAAF Council Member, Isaiah Kiplagat.
“We now need each other since Kenya is bigger as a nation. We should put aside our differences and work hard to host a successful event since it is a big honour for our country. Athletics will be coming back home,” the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympics 10,000m silver medallist urged.
“We have enough time to plan a great event if Government, federation and everyone joins efforts. We have the infrastructure in place and the experience since we hosted the 2007 World Cross and 2010 Africa Senior Championships that were fantastic.
“So, we can’t afford to waste time by arguing with each other and we need to rally behind the World Youth to showcase our organisational skills,” the serving Captain at Kenya Defence Forces who is heavily involved in philanthropy added.
The founder and patron of Kenya’s annual blue riband, Sports Personality of the Year (Soya) Awards advocated for the achievement s of the event to be emulated as an example of how something locally established can grow to international stature.
“When I started Soya, it was small but now it has become so big. We might see the World Youth as a small event but it should give us motivation to go for the World Championships and Olympics in future,” the 2006 New York Marathon winner opined.