What you need to know:
- This mindset has manifested itself in Korir who, in five years, has helped establish two major continental events - the Kip Keino Classic and Sirikwa Classic Cross Country Tour - in conjunction with Athletics Kenya and Golazo Marketing, a Belgium-based sports marketing firm with interest in athletics, cycling, tennis and entertainment.
Six weeks ago, eight young athletes left the country quietly to experience and experiment with life in Miramas, a small town in northern France with the express authority from their bosses to enjoy themselves like any young person looking for fun and adventure abroad would.
“Running was secondary. Go enjoy yourself. Do what you are good at back home and return a changed person,” Barnaba Korir, head of Athletics Kenya’s Youth Sub Committee, told the eight young athletes, all under 20, before they left Nairobi.
Korir received the athletes and two officials back on Sunday, and the youngsters were oozing confidence after spending six weeks in France.
“Our biggest challenge is holding our athletes too close, denying them opportunities to be themselves abroad. So we told these juniors to be what they want to be,” said Korir, an alumnus of Iowa State University where he honed his athletics and professional management skills in the 80s.
The youth were carefully selected as the first class of 2023 to visit Miramas, a small commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, southern France which has signed an MoU with the National Olympic Committee-Kenya (NOC-K) and Athletics Kenya to be the base for Team Kenya 19 months ahead of 2024 Paris Olympics.
Miramas Athletics Club’s technical director, Patrice Ouvrier-Buffet, said last December when the Miramas delegation visited Kenya that they are ready to partner Kenya in the fields of sports, tourism, trade, among others.
Last April, Stadium Miramas Metropole hosted11 Kenyan sprinters for month-long training and competition with their peers in France in readiness for 2022 World Athletics Under-20 Championship in Cali, Colombia.
Opened its doors
Miramas opened its door for Kenyans to visit and train there using state-of-the-art equipment without being held back by any baggage of competition or life, said the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC_K) Secretary General Francis Mutuku when NOCK hosted the Miramas delegation last December.
“We have taken a paradigm shift on how we do things. Our athletes have traditionally been flagged as not being outgoing in foreign countries. We are using the approach of every young Kenyan who has ever ventured abroad and become successful - being adventurous,” said Korir.
This mindset has manifested itself in Korir who, in five years, has helped establish two major continental events - the Kip Keino Classic and Sirikwa Classic Cross Country Tour - in conjunction with Athletics Kenya and Golazo Marketing, a Belgium-based sports marketing firm with interest in athletics, cycling, tennis and entertainment.