The four-day International Armature Athletics Federation World U18 championships that took place at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani between July 12 and July 15, 2017 took off on a low note. Indeed, lost in the politics of mudslinging as campaigns for the August elections heat up, few people in Nairobi took note of the event. The turning point, however, was when President Uhuru Kenyatta, upon officially opening the games, ordered the gates to be opened to the public.
Thereafter the attendance was superb, and many got to see the junior athletes, both Kenyan and foreign, make a case for themselves.
Admittedly, the athletics meet presented a pool of promising talent in the Kenyan team that only needs tapping into and nurturing for Kenya to continue its dominance of the long distance races on the international scene.
Ethiopians continue to be Kenya’s toughest challengers, but that should, rather than discourage, serve to goad our athletes to greater effort to overcome the challenge. Our team emerged fourth overall, with 15 medals from which three were gold, seven silver and four bronze medals. Emerging fourth from a pool of 131 countries is no mean achievement. Kudos to the athletes who gave their best to make Kenya proud.
Yet again, the unifying power of sports, away from the ever-present political grandstanding, upheld our unity in diversity, demonstrating that there is more to be achieved in unity than showmanship.
Organisers of the event also deserve a pat on the back for the success of the event despite numerous challenges.
To hold similar events in future, the development of sports infrastructure to international standards cannot be over-emphasised. The Kasarani stadium may be our best, but it still falls short of international standards compared to, say, the Dar Stadium, where the English Premier side team Everton recently played our very own Gor Mahia.
More of good stadiums, adequate training for our athletics and less political interference in the management of sports in the country will inspire more confidence in our sportsmen and women.