YEAR IN REVIEW: Kenyan athletes hoping to fly flag even higher in 2024

Kenya's Beatrice Chebet after winning this year's women's 10km race at the World Athletics cross country championships in Bathurst, Australia. [Xinhua]

As the world gears up for an exciting array of sporting events in 2024, fans from every corner of the globe are set for a thrilling journey through a year packed with athletic prowess and groundbreaking moments.

From the vibrant plains of Kenya to the glitzy cities around the world, the year promises a cocktail of sporting delight.

Locally, Kenyans will be treated with the immediate return to action of the 2023-2024 FKF Premier League which resumes on Saturday with eyes on struggling AFC Leopards and title chasing Gor Mahia, but of more interest to many Kenyans will be seeing their athletes racing to glory at various meetings across the globe.

For the football fans, they will look no further than the Africa Cup of Nations and of course the English Premier League which is expected to crown the winner in May.

Standard Sports looks at the key sporting events that will shape 2024.

Cameroon's defender Ambroise Oyongo (R) challenges Senegal's forward Sadio Mane during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final football match between Senegal and Cameroon.[FILE]

Africa Cup of Nations

The year kicks off with a bang in Ivory Coast, hosting the African Cup of Nations from January 13 to February 11.

The continent’s best football teams will converge, creating a vibrant tapestry of skill, culture, and national pride.

Morocco, with its recent strong performances at the World Cup, is among the favorites, but the hosts Ivory Coast will also be expected to fight for glory alongside the defending champions Senegal.

The event will also impact European football, with key players leaving their clubs to represent their nations.

This dynamic adds a unique layer to the season, with teams like Nottingham Forest and Manchester United temporarily losing key players​​.

Hellen Obiri of Laikipia Airbase leads women 10km race duirng the 2023 KDF Cross Country championships at the Langata Sports Complex in Nairobi on January 6, 2023. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

World Cross Country Championships

Kenyans are expected to lay down an early marker to the rest of the world when they take part in the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in March.

Once again the likes of Beatrice Chebet, who won last year in Australia is once again expected to defend her title and will be the athlete to beat in the European city.

After successfully hosting the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships, Belgrade will now host a second World Athletics Series event in two years.

The 2024 World Cross Country Championships will be held in the Park of Friendship, next to the Danube River in the heart of Belgrade, which was also the site of the 2013 European Championships.

Faith Kipyegon of Kenya reacts after winning the 1500m Women during the Weltklasse IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich, Switzerland.[FILE]

Diamond League

Kenya’s commitment to athletics shines through in the AK Cross Country Series, a prelude to the track and field meetings. The Sirikwa Classic Cross Country Gold Tour in Eldoret is a highlight, where top performers get a chance to represent Kenya on a global stage. Moreover, various events in the World Athletics Global calendar will be pivotal in selecting athletes for major international competitions.

Globally, the 2024 Diamond League stands as a beacon of excellence, attracting the world’s elite athletes. The series kicks off in Xiamen, China, on April 20, weaving through cities like Doha, Oslo, and Paris, before culminating with the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels on September 13 & 14. Each city will witness the finest athletes battle for supremacy, showcasing feats of human capabilities that defy gravity and time.

Grand Slam winner Angela Okutoyi during the Billie Jean King cup Africa group III at Nairobi club. June 12, 2023. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Tennis Grand Slams

The Australian Open from January 14-28, where the world’s top tennis stars will battle for supremacy on the hard courts as usual will be the opening leg of the tennis Grand Slam season.

After the Australia Open, the players will be playing at the French Open in May before Wimbledon in June and the US Open in August and September.

Kenyans will be looking forward to seeing local tennis star Angela Okutoyi play at one of the Grand Slams.

Ferdinand Omanyala leads pack in the 100m men finals during the Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour Nairobi 2023 meet at Kasarani Stadium on May 13, 2023. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Kipchoge Keino Classic Tour

On April 20, Kenya will host the Kipchoge Keino Classic Tour, a beacon of athletic excellence on the World Athletics calendar.

Launched in 2020, this one-day meet at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium has rapidly become a premier event, showcasing top talents from Africa and beyond.

Athletes will compete not just for glory but also for world ranking points and prize money, under the name of Kenyan Olympic legend Kipchoge Keino.

This event is a testament to Kenya’s growing stature in world athletics, offering a platform for global competitors in a country renowned for its running legends​​.

Africa Games

In a thrilling display of athleticism and unity, the African Games in Ghana (Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast) will commence on March 8 and continue through March 23, uniting the continent in a celebration of sports.

Peres Jepchirchir wins Tokyo Olympics marathon title. [World Athletics]

World Marathon Majors

Kenyan athletes will once again be expected to dominate in the World Marathon Majors that start with the Tokyo Marathon on March 3.

Former world record holder Eliud Kipchoge started the 2023 season with victory at the Tokyo Marathon and it remains to be seen if he will be back in the Japanese city this year.

World marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum will still be the man to watch in 2024 after his record breaking run last year.

After Tokyo Marathon, the athletes will take part in Boston Marathon on April 15, London Marathon on April 21, Berlin Marathon on September 29, Chicago Marathon on October 13 and New York Marathon on November 3.

ICC T20 World Cups

Cricket fans have a double treat with the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup from June 4 to 30, co-hosted by the West Indies and the United States, and the Women’s T20 World Cup hosted by Bangladesh in September and October. These events reflect the sport’s global appeal and growing popularity, particularly in women’s cricket​​.

Manchester City celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League final against Inter Milan. [Xinhua]

European leagues and Champions League final

The winners of the various league will be known in May with Kenyan fans who are keen followers of the English Premier League set to know if Manchester City will be champions again or Arsenal and Liverpool will have a final say.

Apart from knowing the winners of their respective leagues, there is also the Champions League final on June 1.

The final will be staged at Wembley Stadium and with two English teams still in the competition, the duo of Arsenal and Manchester City will be praying to play in a home final.

Italy's team celebrates with the trophy on the podium after winning the Euro 2020 soccer championship final between England and Italy.[FILE]

Euro 2024

Euro 2024 will take place in Germany from June 14 to July 14, with matches across ten venues.

This football championship will see 24 European teams vying for the title and once again the likes of Spain, France, England and defending champions Italy will be among the favourites for the title​​.

Copa América

From June 20 to July 14, Copa América will bring South American football flair to the US. This tournament will feature a new format, with six spots for Concacaf teams based on their performances, adding a fresh twist to this storied championship​​.

Olympic and Paralympic Games

The highlight of the year undoubtedly will be the Paris Summer Olympics, running from July 26 to August 11. Over 32 sports across iconic Parisian landmarks will captivate the world, with new events like break dancing.

Once again Kenyan athletes will be the ones to watch as the likes of Faith Kipyegon will be out to win a third consecutive Olympic title.

2024 Sports Calendar events

January

Jan 13-11 Feb- Football, African Cup of Nation in Ivory Coast

Jan 14-28-Tennis, Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia

Jan 19 - Feb 2-Multi-sports, Winter Youth Olympics in Gangwon, South Korea

Jan 26-28-Extreme Sports, Winter X Games Aspen, Colorado, USA

February

Feb 2-18-Swimming, World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar

Feb 2 – Mar 16-Rugby Six Nations UK, Ireland, France & Italy

Feb 11 -Football (American) Super Bowl, Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada

Feb 16-25-Table Tennis, World Championship in Busan, South Korea

March

Mar 8-23-Multi-sports, African Games in Ghana (Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast)

Mar 19 - Apr 8-Basketball, NCAA finals (March Madness) USA

April

Apr 8-14-Golf Masters, Augusta, Georgia, USA

Apr 10 - May 6-Snooker, World Snooker Championship Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England

Apr 13-Horse Racing Grand National, Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool

May

May 4-Horse Racing Kentucky Derby, Louisville, Kentucky, US

May 10-26-Ice Hockey, IIHF World Championship Czechia

May 16–19-Golf, US PGA, Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky

May 20 - Jun 9-Tennis, French Open Paris, France

May 25-Football (Soccer) FA Cup final, Wembley Stadium, London

May 26-Auto Racing, Indy 500, Indianapolis, USA

June

June 1-Football (Soccer) UEFA Champions League Final, Wembley Stadium, London

Jun 4-30-CricketnICC World T20 (men),USA, West Indies

Jun 13-16-Golf, US Open Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina

Jun 14 - Jul 13-Football (Soccer), 48th Copa América, USA

Jun 14 – Jul 14-Football (Soccer), Euro 2024 Germany

Jun 15-16-Auto Racing, 24 Hours of Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France

Jun-Basketball NBA Finals, USA/Canada

Jun-Ice Hockey Stanley Cup finals

Jun 29 - Jul 21-Cycling, Tour de France Italy start, France

July

Jul 1-14-Tennis, Wimbledon London, England

Jul 18-21-Golf The Open Championship, Royal Troon Golf Club Troon South Ayrshire Scotland

Jul 26 - Aug 11-Multi-sports Summer Olympics Paris, France

August

Aug 12-18-Cycling, Tour de France Femmes, France

Aug 18-25-Rowing World Rowing Championships Henley Island/Martindale Pond, St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada

Aug/Sep-Tennis, US Open,New York, USA

Aug 28 - Sept 8-Multi-sports, Paralympic Games, Paris, France

September

Sep 10-15-Golf, Solheim Cup Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia USA

Sep 24–29- Golf, Presidents Cup Royal Montreal Golf Club, Quebec, Canada

Sep 21-29-Cycling, UCI Road World Championships, Zurich, Switzerland

Sept-Oct-Cricket ICC World T20 (women) Bangladesh

October

Oct-Baseball World Series

Oct 12-20-Sailing America's Cup Barcelona, Spain

Oct 16-20-Cycling World Track Championships Ballerup, Denmark

November

Nov-Dec-Weightlifting, IWF World Championships Manama, Bahrain

Nov 5-Horse Racing, Melbourne Cup Victoria, Australia

December

Dec-Swimming, FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Budapest, Hungary

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