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Athletics is coming home once again: Top stars applaud Nairobi for winning bid to host world junior event

ATHLETICS By DENIS OKEYO AND IAAF | July 28th 2018 | 4 min read


Edward Zakayo celebrates his victory during in the 5000m final in Tampere, Finland.[Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

There was collective excitement yesterday after IAAF formally endorsed Nairobi to host the eighteenth edition of World U-20 Championships in 2020.

The IAAF council meeting held in Buenos Aires, Argentina made the announcement on Thursday. Kenya will be the first country in Africa to host the championships.

The announcement came just few days after Kenya led at the 2018 World U-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland and it will be befitting for the country to defend the title at home.

Last year, athletics hysteria swept the country when Nairobi hosted the U-18 championships that saw over 60,000 attending the final day of competition creating an exciting atmosphere for the young athletes who had gathered from around the globe at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

IAAF said it was delighted to announce that Nairobi has been selected as the host city of the 2020 IAAF World Athletics U20 Championships.

“By hosting an outstanding final edition of the IAAF World U18 Championships last year, Nairobi demonstrated its readiness to take the next step as a championship host,” read the IAAF report.

“During a recent visit to the IAAF headquarters in Monaco, the Principal Secretary for Sports in Kenya, Ambassador Kirimi Kaberia, noted that 42 percent of Kenya’s population was under 15 (only 17 percent over 50) and sport was a vital component in the country’s development.

“Athletics is a very important part of our life. Everyone loves athletics in Kenya. You saw it during the world under 18 and you will see it again in 2020,” he said. 

IAAF president Sebastian Coe noted the Kenyan Government’s strong support for the Nairobi bid and said it would be an ideal host for the championships.

“The U20 Championships showcases the future of our sport so Kenya, with a young and enthusiastic population and such a rich history in athletics, is a perfect fit for us,” Coe said.

“We hope that awarding these championships will further encourage the development of athletics in Kenya and all over Africa, which is such a vibrant part of our international federation.” 

President Uhuru Kenyatta was also elated by the news and tweeted thus: “I am delighted that @iaaforg has selected Nairobi to host the 2020 U20 @IAAFWorldChamps. This is a vote of confidence in our ability to deliver on a massive global event and recognition of our status as a powerhouse in athletics. We set the bar with the U18s. ASANTE SANA!”

The president of Athletics Kenya, Lt Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei said: ”The Executive Committee of AK, athletes and entire athletics fraternity are very excited to receive the good news from the IAAF that Kenya has been selected to host the WU20 in 2020.

"It is indeed a great honour to us all, particularly the great athletes who have significantly contributed to the development of world athletics over the years. All are welcomed back to Kenya, the home of heroes.”

PS Kaberia told Standard Sports that "if someone had told me last year, we will be hosting world event such as World Safari Rally, Under-20, Commonwealth General Assembly in the country, I could have told them, you are crazy.

"Now see, we are here hosting global events, we are very excited about getting the rights to host U-20, coming just a few days after topping the same event in Finland. Having hosted the U-18 successfully in 2017, we know what to expect, we will try to make it better than last event. With the current good political environment we have all the support to make very great occasion.”

Kenyan stars also applauded the announcement. World 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi and World Steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech said this was a huge moment for the country.

“This is great news, having hosted U-18 successfully last year and now U-20, its shows Kenya is the really home of athletics. Now, I foresee, Kenya also hosting the senior event in the near future – IAAF World Championships,” said Manangoi who is preparing for the Africa Senior Athletics championships in Asaba, Nigeria.

“It’s exciting to see Kenya host a global event again; this is great for the nation and it’s sport-loving people to come and cheer their own win at home,” Chepkoech said.

2015 world javelin champion Julius Yego also said: “It’s a great honour to be trusted to host a World event again, congratulations to Athletics Kenya and Kenyan Government for making sure we host the world again.”

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