Go conquer the world, President Uhuru Kenyatta tells Moscow bound athletics team, pays tribute to Rugby Sevens team

President Uhuru hands over the national flag to team heading to the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships that start in Moscow, Russia. [Photo: Standard]

KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday handed over the national flag to team heading to the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships that start in Moscow, Russia, next week.

The head of state also received the flag from the rugby sevens team that finished fourth at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow last month.

“Our rugby teams have acquitted themselves most admirably on their outing, and continue to get better at the sport. I am pleased to note our Sevens was the fourth best team worldwide at the Moscow International Board World Cup while the 15’s gave an equally outstanding performance in Madagascar. Both teams emerged the best in the continent,” President Uhuru said on Friday at the ceremony held at State House, Nairobi

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The President said he had no doubt on the athletics team to the World Championships as it’s a fine squad.

“However, their sterling performance at the last championships in Daegu, South Korea, has raised the national expectations,” he said.

“But you take up the challenge and renew our pride. This expectation is strengthened by the rigorous training you underwent and the impressive times you clocked at the team selections at Nyayo Stadium last month. I am sad that some of the defending champions including world record holder David Rudisha are out of the competition due to injury. We wish him quick recovery,” he added.

President Uhuru said he keenly follows the performance of national teams at the international level, “and the signs are there –enormous potential, talent and motivation.”

He gave the green light Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat, who had requested the government’s support to bid for World Youth Championships and World Junior Championships. “Bid even for the two, we will support you,” he said.

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Kenya will be seeking to improve the 17 medals (seven gold, six silver and four bronze medals) they won in Daegu to finish third overall.

Uhuru was flanked by deputy president William Ruto, Sports and Culture cabinet secretary Dr Hassan Wario as well as Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat, National Olympic Committee of Kenya chairman Dr Kipchoge Keino and Kenya Rugby Union chairman Mwangi Muthee.

 Also present were CEO’s Titus Naikuni (Kenya Airways) and Bob Collymore (Safaricom).

Ruto was optimistic Kenya will triumph in their events in Moscow.

“I am certain that most of them will win their events. We only need to professionalise and commercialise sports,” he said.

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Wario asked AK to count on their support in bidding to host global events, saying they have support the Moscow bound team to Sh21m.

But he said they have activated Sports Act to help speed the professionalisation of sports in the country.

“There is no room for briefcase federations,” he warned. “We are waiting for the gazettement of the Sports Act and will have five key elements,” said Wario.

Sports Act, he said, is critical as it will establish the Sports Lottery, Sports Arbitration, Sports Academy and the Sports Registrar.

“The law is clear on this and it will mainstream our sports operations,” he said.

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IAAF Uhuru Kenyatta Daegu Athletics Kenya