IAAF Under 20: Kenya should learn from Nigeria's mistakes

Kenyan Track and Field team to the Senior Africa Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, at Mutrtal Mohammed International Airport on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. [Standard Sports]

Once more, Kenya showed its mettle as a world sporting power by topping the continental track and field championship medals table in Asaba, Nigeria. This is after the team won 11 gold, 6 silver and 2 bronze medals. This feat, all the more impressive, was achieved amid chaos occasioned by the Asaba Local Organising Committee bungling the logistics. Unfortunately, this led to Tanzania pulling out of the championships.

This fiasco has cast Nigeria, and by extension, Africa in negative light. Ideally, hosting such events ought to generate positive coverage, if only to attract investment. For Kenya, however, there is no time to dwell on Nigeria’s shortcomings.

It won’t do Kenya any good to derive pleasure from Nigeria’s misfortunes because in two years’ time, we will host the IAAF World Under-20 Championship. With a lot of work still to be done, what happened in Asaba, Nigeria, should goad us into action, if only, to avoid the obvious pitfalls that Nigeria suffered.

Kenya won the men 4x400m gold ahead of short-race giants South Africa, Botswana and the hosts Nigeria. Matthew Sawe also won the High Jump gold while Julius Yego retained Javelin’s top accolade.  This is ample proof that apart from distance running, Kenya has potential to aim for glory in hitherto uncharted waters.

Coaches should comb every corner of the country for talent in preparation for 2020 and beyond. Athletics administrators and the government should therefore close ranks and highlight the positives from Nigeria to plot for a successful hosting of the IAAF Under-20 World Championship in 2020.

The world was unanimous in granting Kenya hosting rights for the event, partly, on the basis of our successful staging of the Under 18 edition last year. However, three years is either a long time to improve on what was not done right during the Under 18 edition, or too short that Kenya could fail to keep up with new organizational trends.

Thus, it behooves Athletics Kenya and the government to assemble a Local Organising Committee comprised of people who understand the dynamics of hosting such an event.

The facilities should be upgraded in good time. It would be a plus to ensure that those in charge of protocol and logistics understand the demands of hosting such an event, together with the consequences of bungling it.?

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IAAF Under 20Nigeriamistakesstranded athletes