NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 -With one year before Kenya hosts the World Under-18 Championships in Athletics, IAAF has given the country the thumbs up as far as the progress of preparation is concerned.
IAAF head of event operations Carlo de Angeli, who is in the country to monitor the progress, was upbeat Kenya will host a successful championship that is scheduled to run July 12-16, 2017 at Nairobi’s Safaricom Kasarani Stadium.
“I have the memories of 2007 World Cross Country Championships held in Mombasa and I know what this country can deliver in terms of enthusiasm to athletics. We know there have been challenges with the federation and formation of the LOC but I am happy to find out the good progress that is there,” De Angeli said after meeting the LOC and Athletics Kenya (AK) officials on Monday.
“I am happy I’ve seen progress and shall go back and report with my colleagues in Monaco what I’ve seen,” he added.
Mwangi Muthee’s appointment as the Chief Executive Officer of the LOC had ruffled Athletics Kenya feathers with the local athletics body against the appointment of the former Kenya Rugby Union chairman.
However, after the government through the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture stood by its ground and AK had no option but to oblige.
Speaking at the same event, Muthee said he was receiving all the necessary support from AK and reiterated his commitment to ensure Kenya hosts a world class event next year.
“We are known as world class beaters in athletics. Come 2017 we would like Kenya to be seen as one of the best organizers in the world. We are happy with the support and assurances from the government. By end of the week we will be tendering for civil work and equipment needed for the championship,” Muthee said.
AK Vice President in charge of competitions Paul Mutwii said, “AK is happy with the management of both the steering committee and LOC. The issue here is not personality, but about people who can deliver the services to this championship. We have completely agreed and on behalf of AK I want to say we are together and supportive to our CEO.”
De Angeli was taken on a tour around the stadium and all its facilities and despite being worried by the 60,000 capacity; he believes the LOC can be able to put up a superb atmosphere for the athletes in terms of crowd.
“For this kind of championships we need smaller stadium and so we look at stadia of around10, 000 or 15,000 capacity because of the attendance and atmosphere for the athletes. That was one of the concerns but having spoken to the CEO and knowing how passionate Kenyans are for athletics we believe it can work,” the IAAF official stated.
Another concern raised was the state of both the competition and warm up tartan tracks but he was comforted with the government’s promise to put up new tracks before the competition.
“The stadium offers all what we need. However, the state of the track is not ideal. It is old not top of the range and it is quite run down especially the warm up track. But we have been told there are plans to renovate. We will work with LOC to ensure the track meets our requirements. If that commitment is confirmed it will not be a problem to use the venue,” he affirmed.
De Angeli was also taken on tour at the various accommodation facilities proposed for the Championship including Kenyatta University which has been proposed as the athletes’ village.