NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21- President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday feted the Kenyan team to the just concluded IAAF World U18 Championships with Sh100, 000 each and a four-day trip to Mombasa as a token of appreciation for their performance in the global competition.
The team will ride on the Madaraka Express to Mombasa on Saturday and are expected back on Wednesday.
While congratulating the team that collected a total of 15 medals; 4 gold, 7silver and 4 bronze, Kenyatta told the upcoming stars to write about their experience on the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) as well as the stay in the coastal city and send the reports back to him.
“You have made our country proud. That week of the IAAF World Championships put Kenya on the map as the event brought together teams from across the globe,” President Kenyatta said after hosting the team for breakfast at State House.
“You have marketed our country. The number of people who turned out to watch the event tells about what you did for the country.”
“You have done our country proud. It doesn’t matter the position you came, it’s not about winning but it’s about doing our nation proud. I send you to Mombasa to enjoy yourselves and send me your experience on the new SGR,” a jovial Kenyatta said when he received the national flag back from the team.
The Head of State also commended Kenyan officials and organizers for making the global event successful, saying they proved to the world that Kenya is capable of hosting international championships including an IAAF Diamond League leg.
“Even if you go by the numbers of Sunday, a day I wish I was able to join you, the turnout of Kenyans coming to witness showed that Kenya can host major sporting events. We are the home of athletics. We are the home of champions. From the feedback I have received from participants from different parts of the world, they marveled at our organizational capacity,” he stated.
The President assured that his administration will continue supporting sports to ensure the youth benefit from their talent.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts Hassan Wario said his ministry will top up on the President’s personal reward.
“As a ministry we will sit down with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and see how we can reward the athletes. We will send something to their guardians,” Wario said.
Wario noted that adoption of the camp system where the young athletes were kept together in training groups helped to improve their performance.
“We kept these athletes in camps; we had a camp in Baringo, Kisii, Keringet in Nakuru, Machakos, Bomet, Kapenguria and Riruta in Nairobi. The camps were run directly by the ministry and the camp system according to coaches helped a lot.”
“Ethiopia brought a very strong team; they won both 3000m boys and girls. If we had won that we would have been number one. Our tactics did not work against Ethiopia so we need to work on that. The absence of USA, Britain and Japan gave advantage to South Africa, Cuba and China otherwise they would have split the medals and Kenya be number one,” Wario claimed.
The fast rising athletes freely and joyfully mingled with the President and expressed their delight as they turn their attention to the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships to be hosted in Tampere, Finland.
“I feel very happy to meet the President. I thank him for the reward and we have promised to continue raising the Kenyan flag high next year at the World Junior Championships. I can’t wait to go and have fun in Mombasa,” Edward Zakayo who won silver in the 3000m boys told Capital Sport.