Iten declared world heritage site by IAAF

By Clinton Nyabuto: Sunday, May 19th 2019 at 15:50 GMT +3 | Athletics
Athletes train along a road under construction in Iten town [Photo, Courtesy]

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has declared the town of Iten in Elgeyo Marakwet County as a global heritage site.

During a dinner in Yokohama, Japan last weekend, the IAAF’s President Lord Sebastian Coe handed the Rift Valley town the “IAAF Heritage Plaque” which celebrates towns important to global athletics history.

The head of IAAF’s Heritage Department Mr Chris Turner termed the recognition as something that is in the heart and soul of athletics.

“This recognition is really about something that’s in the heart and soul of athletics,” Mr Chris Turner said.

“The fact that so many athletes come from one area and train in one area, and that many athletes have gone to Iten and live there – a place where athletes go, a home of champions – is one of the reasons why we recognized Iten with this plaque,”

“It’s like when you think of the javelin, you think of Finland or when you think of the discus, you would probably go to Germany. The same way with distance running, you think of Iten.” Turner added.

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Iten, which is commonly referred to as the “home of champions”, is the source of world-class athletes who have ruled in major athletics competitions across the globe.

The town, which is 2400 metres above sea level, is the home of the two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat and former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang.

Marathon legends Mary Keitany, Florence Kiplagat and Lornah Kiplagat similarly hail from this Home of Champions which provides a conducive environment for training.

The actual Heritage Plaque will be handed to the Elgeyo Marakwet County and Athletics Kenya authorities next year as IAAF is under rebranding currently which may affect the design of the plagues issued out.

Due to global recognition, residents of Iten are now optimistic of more developments in the town.

The Elgeyo-Marakwet County Deputy Governor Wesley Rotich encouraged investors to set up business ventures in Iten as the town is now ripe for investments due to its new status.

"We want to encourage investors to come to Iten. Iten now is ripe for investment, and they should come and invest in the hospitality sector here by setting up facilities such as sports camps or hotels because Iten will attract even more people of different nationalities," Rotich said.

The IAAF Heritage Department plays a role of preserving the legacy of athletics, its heroes and heroines, their artefacts, and the documents, videos and photographs that portray them thus inspiring the present stars and fans and those of the future.

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