NAIROBI, Kenya, July 4 – While expressing her satisfaction with the preparations of the IAAF World U18 Championships at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani and Kenyatta University, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has told the Local Organising Committee to ensure they deliver a world class event that will reflect the best of the country.
A total of 131 countries will be represented in the Championships that starts in Nairobi on July 12 to run until July14, with some of the teams expected to arrive this week to acclimatize ahead of the event that will be opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The First Lady who is the patron of event, on Tuesday inspected the facilities and was impressed with the work especially at Kenyatta University where the athletes will be accommodated in a special Games Village.
“I am truly overwhelmed with the work done here. This place will make Kenya proud,” said the First lady after an extensive inspection of accommodation, dining, kitchen and recreational facilities at the Games Village.
At Kenyatta University, the First Lady witnessed the hand-over of the Games Village from the University’s Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Wainana to officials of the IAAF World U18 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) which was represented by its chairman Lt-General (rtd) Jackson Tuwei and Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee.
The First Lady then made a second site visit at the Kasarani Stadium where infrastructural works including the laying of new tartan tracks are 98 per cent complete according to Sports, Culture and Arts Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario who accompanied the First Lady at both sites.
“I am satisfied that actualization of the logistical and operational plans for the championships are well on course,” said the First Lady with optimism that the country will stage a world class event that reflects the very best of Kenya.
A total of 1,300 athletes will be fighting for the 37 competitions on offer where a strong 78-member Team Kenya will be out to defend its past record as the kings of long distance races.
Sporting enthusiasts are optimistic that no country can beat Kenya in athletics at home during this year’s Championships.
Of the 215 member countries that constitute the IAAF, six among them overall defending champions United States of America, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Canada withdrew citing security reasons.
At the Kasarani Stadium, where she met, mingled and chatted with some participating athletes of Team Kenya, the First Lady exuded confidence that Kenya was ready to receive the various teams and hold a successful event.
“This will be second biggest sporting event that Kenya is hosting since the 1987 All Africa Games,” she said adding that the championships provide an opportunity to appreciate the diverse talents among the youth.
“For me, the upcoming IAAF World Under 18 Championships offer a fantastic opportunity for us to recognize the diverse talents and abilities of youth across the world. Every competing athlete will serve as an inspiration to young people globally,” she added.
She expressed her pride with the Kenyan Athletes adding they have had the best mentorship under past champions in the names of such heroes as Catherine Ndereba, Pamela Jelimo, Noah Ngeny, John Ngugi and Julius Kariuki among others.
“As Patron, I see the championships as an opportunity for Kenyans to celebrate, applaud and encourage our youth to pursue sports as a career.”
She said all Kenyans were highly optimistic and supportive of Team Kenya which they expect to emerge winners.
“We are all rooting for you and optimistic that Kenya will emerge as the international champion this year.”
Besides the sporting fraternity drawn globally, thousands of other visitors have also started arriving in the country to have a first-hand experience of Kenya, a country recognized as a powerhouse of long distance runners.