NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – The Nairobi leg of the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour scheduled for September 26 will be named the ‘Kipchoge Keino Classic’, race director Barnaba Korir has disclosed.
The Tour, the first of a kind in Africa was scheduled to be held on May 2 at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani but was pushed to September due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And with a new date now, the Local Organizing Committee, led by Korir who is also an Executive Committee member at Athletics Kenya, work is already in top gear preparing for the event.
“We have decided to name this event the Kip Keino Classic because every Kenyan knows Kip Keino is the father of athletics in the country and we want to make sure we recognize his contribution,” Korir stated adding, the 10,000m race will also be christened the ‘Naftali temu race’ in recognizition to the former Olympic gold medalist.
“Naftali won gold in this event at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and we have named that event in his honor. We are also looking for sponsors to market this event so that he can be fully given his honor for the contribution he had on Kenyan athletics,” Korir disclosed.
The events of the day have been classed into three groups; core events presented by World Athletics, and which will have a hefty winning bonus, the discretional events which will be selected by Athletics Kenya as well as the national events.
Korir says this will be an opportunity for Kenyan athletes to test themselves as well as pick some earnings after the difficulty and raging drought brought about by the coronavirus.
“The national events are those which we will allow locals to participate to determine their shape as well as look at how they gauge ahead of the new season. It will also be an opportunity for them to earn something small after all this mess that was brought about by the coronavirus,” said the race director.
He also hinted that a national championship might be organized late August or early September, depending on the COVID-19 situation, to select Kenyan athletes who will participate at the event.
At the same time, he says they are talking to different managers all over the world to see whether they will have a world class field staging the Nairobi meet.
“We are keeping in touch with managers from all over the world to ensure the event is a success. We have received requests from up to 10 managers who are interested in bringing their athletes and we have continued to give them updates on what is happening here.”
“As a result of the pandemic, we might have a problem if the skies are not opened and we are thinking of bringing athletes from Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia in the event that it will be difficult to have others. We are keeping our options open in the event that the worse comes up. But as at now, we are preparing to have the best competition,” Korir noted.
Meanwhile, Korir says they are keeping the option of moving the one-day event to the newly refurbished Nyayo National Stadium open, with Sports PS Joe Okudo having earlier Monday hinted to Capital Sport their desire to have the event opening Nyayo Stadium to the world.
The Organizing Committee was at the stadium Monday and Tuesday inspecting various needs for the event including lighting, tartan track as well as a proposed media area.
“We have had discussions concerning Kasarani and as at now, the event will be there. We have talked to the Sports Kenya Director General and in case of anything, we need a fallback plan. We want to make sure that Nyayo is there and available.”
“We are happy with the renovations which are well done but we would also want to have a new tartant track as well and we are also looking at the TV screen and lighting as well,” Korir noted.
The floodlights at the Kasarani have been specifically made for football matches with the lights focused on the pitch. If an athletics event is to be done heading into late evening, the lights will have to be adjusted for athletics competitions and the quality improved as well.