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Kenya’s IAAF U18 preparedness wows the world

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with the Germany team ahead of the IAAF World U18 at the Kasarani Stadium.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 10 – With just a day to the 10th edition of the IAAF World U18 Championships to be hosted in Nairobi, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Monday made a final inspection of Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani ahead of the global showpiece that starts on Wednesday.

The First Lady inspected facilities in the main competition arena including the newly laid tartan tracks, the media centre, and the warm-up tracks before heading to the accreditation centre for registration.

The First Lady is the current patron of the Biennial International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) W-U18 championships, Kenya Chapter.

The Nairobi 2017 competitions mark the last edition of the iconic championships that have been held in nine other countries since the inaugural event in Poland in 1999.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with LOC boss Mwangi Muthee.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

An impressed First Lady mingled and chatted openly with both the officials of the  W-U18 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and young athletes from various countries who excitedly took pictures with her.

But even as the First Lady expressed her satisfaction with the renovations at the MISC where engineers and technicians were putting final touches to the facilities, officials from various foreign delegations gave a positive verdict that Kenya had put in place facilities meeting international standards.

“These facilities are very good. This is fantastic,” said Mr Olaf Brockmann, a Press Delegate who is among those managing the Media Centre.

“Such Media Centre has not happened before”, added Mr. Brockmann whose sentiments were echoed by a senior medical Doctor managing the 60-strong team of athletes from Germany.

“This is a very good stadium. We like it very much,” said the doctor as young members of his team expressed their satisfaction with their stay in Kenya, a country they described as safe and with “fantastic weather.”

Team Kenya training at Kasarani Stadium. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Many other officials from the 135 countries attending the championships expressed similar sentiments that Kenya had put in place facilities and preparations that meet the international billing.

“Kenya has exceeded our expectations. No wonder some of the greatest world beaters come from this country,” said one delegate who did not wish to be identified.

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The First Lady was taken around the various sporting facilities by Sports, Culture and the Arts Cabinet Secretary Dr. Hassan Wario and LOC  Chief Executive Officer  Mwangi Muthee among other officials.

She was received at the MISC by renown world champions Catherine Ndereba (two time Marathon Gold Medalist and four times Boston Marathon winner), David Rudisha (King of 800 metres), Mercy Cherono (5,000 metres Queen), Julius Yego of the Javelin throwing fame, Douglas Wakiihuri (Marathon legend) and Tecla Lorupe.

Firat Lady Margaret Kenyatta with some of the countries that arrived.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Like Germany, Kenya is also fielding 60 young Athletes-comprising 31 girls and 29 boys- in all the 17 competitions on offer.

Other countries fielding high numbers of athletes include China (61), France (45) and Turkey (44).

Sporting enthusiasts are optimistic that no country can beat Kenya at home. Kenya has always emerged between position 1-3 in the previous 9 editions of the iconic championships.

Besides the athletes and their managers, Nairobi expects to host over 5,000 visitors this week alone and pump over Sh 2.5 billion to the local economy.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta having a chat with an athlete from Germany.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

The event is also expected to have a major impact on the tourism sector because millions of people from over 200 countries will be watching the events in Kenya.

The over 1400 athletes and their managers will also serve as ambassadors of Kenya when they return to their respective homes with a positive image of the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to open the championships on Wednesday afternoon.

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