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UPPING THE GAME: Fourth tartan track built at Gems Cambridge International School to help tap talent

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National Olympic Committee of Kenya President Kipchoge Keino and Gems Cambridge International School CEO Anthony Millward commission the 400m tartan track at the institution on Friday.[PHOTO: DENNIS OKEYO]

Edna Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop, who are the reigning two-time IAAF world champions, stand out among the most decorated female athletes from athletics heartland of North Rift.

The story of Kiplagat, who began competing internationally while in Standard Seven at Kapkoi Primary in Keiyo North in 1995, serves to inspire budding athletes. She is among a host of high-achieving females from the region who discovered their running talents while herding goats.

Others who followed in that path are double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, former world-half marathon record holder Lorna Kiplagat and former Boston Marathon winner Sharon Cherop.

That tradition got an about-turn with the commissioning on Friday of a 400-metre tartan track at Gems Cambridge International School, along Magadi Road in Nairobi.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) chair, Dr Kipchoge Keino, presided over the launch of the six-lane all-weather track.

The project, the fourth tartan track in Kenya and third in Nairobi after Nyayo Stadium and Kasarani, will help athletes preparing for the 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships. It will also help the hundreds of elite athletes in their speed work.

“It’s a facility of its kind. It has come at the right time when we are lined up for several continental and global events. During our time we never even had running shoes and I challenge county governments to borrow a leaf from this school,” said Dr Kipchoge Keino.

The tartan track is the second privately-owned one in the country, after the one at the Lorna Kiplagat Sports Academy near Iten.

“But let’s not drag our athletes to politics. The world is changing and we should develop them for the betterment of this country,” Dr Kipchoge said.

The sports edifice, which is complete with hockey fields, basketball and tennis courts, will be a training centre for athletes from around Nairobi.

Antony Millward, the school’s principal, said the project was the biggest investment in the community and would help nurture sports talents.

“I cannot give the exact cost of the facility since it is not complete. The floodlights are not yet ready. But we have spent millions of shillings,” said Millward.

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