This weekend’s preliminary selection for Kenya’s team to the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi has set the mood for next year’s global junior extravaganza.
Athletics Kenya settled for early preparations and grooming of a new team since most of the top juniors will have surpassed the set age limit by the time Nairobi hosts the world meet from August 17 to 22 next year.
The impressive turnout of 500 hopefuls and the quality competition on display both on track and in the field at the selection that started yesterday is clear indication of the talent that runs in Kenya, which needs to be harnessed.
World Athletics opted to postpone the global event from July 7 to 12 this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Athletics Kenya have a herculean task of selecting a team that will retain the title the country won in the 2018 competitions in Tampere, Finland, after collecting 11 medals — six gold, four silver and one bronze. This is also the right time for the World Under-20 Championships’ Local Organising Committee to revitalise its preparations for the world event.
The competition’s chief executive officer Mike Rabar’s team is under pressure to produce an outstanding event, given the lofty standards of the World Under-18 Championships we hosted in 2017. It’s from the huge success of the 2017 championships that World Athletics picked Nairobi once again to host the Under-20 competition.
The budget for the event is likely to go up by Sh250 million from the initial Sh1.3 billion, due to the Covid-19 guidelines released by World Athletics. That is why it’s imperative for Rabar’s team, the government and Athletics Kenya to put in place the right structures instead of waiting for the last minute to run around in the peculiar Kenyan fashion.
Budgetary issues should be dispensed with immediately and other organisational matters dealt with in good time.
The success of the event will definitely enhance Kenya’s bid for the 2025 World Championships — track and field’s most prestigious competition.