Upgrade county stadiums

The countdown to the 2023 World Athletics Championships started in earnest yesterday with athletics competitions in sprints and middle and field events at Mumias Sports Complex in Kakamega.

The two-day championship is a curtain-raiser for Athletics Kenya (AK) Track and Field Weekend Meetings that start next month and will feature six legs in Kisumu, Nairobi, Nyeri, Mombasa and Kisii.

The good news is that the Coast region will host one leg of the series for the first time in a decade. The action also returns to Kisii and Nyeri after a five-year lull.

Coming immediately after the cross-country championships, the track and field weekend meetings will offer athletes another chance to prepare for a busy athletics season that will culminate in the 2023 World Athletics Championships due August 19 to 27 in Budapest, Hungary, and the African Games due August 4 to 19 in Ghana.

It is disappointing that North Rift and South Rift regions, which produce talented athletes for the national team, have been excluded from hosting the track and field events because the regions don’t have proper stadiums.

Afraha Stadium, Kericho Green Stadium, Kapsabet Stadium, Kamariny Stadium, Kipchoge Keino Stadium, and Kipchoge Stadium, among other sporting venues in North Rift and South Rift, were not found fit to host Athletics Kenya track and field weekend meetings. The stadiums are dilapidated and could expose athletes to the risk of injury.

Athletes from these areas will have to travel to Kisumu, Nairobi, Nyeri, Mombasa and Kisii, which puts them at a disadvantage at a time when athletes are chasing qualifying times for major athletics competitions.

While we laud Athletics Kenya for finally taking the track and field meetings to the Coast region, Kisii and Nyeri, we urge county governments to upgrade stadiums in their jurisdictions to host athletics competitions. This will give athletes in their areas an opportunity to prepare adequately for major competitions.