Nyayo Stadium is the place to be this weekend if you are a real Kenyan sports fan

Mary Moraa

World women's 800m champion Mary Moraa during the official launch of the 2024 Absa Kip Keino Classic at Nyayo National Stadium on April 11, 2024.


Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Kip Keino Classic is the only World Athletics Continental Gold Tour event in Africa.
  • In that list is Ferdinand Omanyala, Africa’s fastest human being with a time of 9.77 seconds.

I have said it here before and on other forums, that Kenyans are a peculiar people.

Take the example of those who pride themselves as sports fans, specifically, football followers.

These Kenyans are ever delighted to show off their knowledge of the English Premier League and their Sh1,200-acquired replica jerseys.

They have key statistics of their favourite teams on their fingertips, endlessly discuss how “their” clubs are performing in England and in Europe, you would think they have family shares in those foreign entities.

“How was your game?”

“We beat you guys yesterday”

“This league is ours”

“How did the elephant find itself on top of the tree?” 

The inevitable preamble is delivered, and an impassioned debate ensues, whether one is a hustler, a dynasty or anything in between.

However, when you ask these fans why they do not show this same unbridled love for our local FKF Premier League and clubs; why they do not fill the stadiums to watch live matches in Kenya, the general response is that the quality is poor so why bother watching.

I could counter, and say that the quality of football in the lower divisions in Europe is decidedly inferior, but matches there still attract big crowds and overwhelming local interest.

But since we are talking about quality, it should then follow that a class international sports event should draw in Kenyan sports fans. Right?

So, if you are a Kenyan who loves sports, and specifically athletics – top-notch at that, and you will be in Nairobi this Saturday, you cannot afford to miss watching the Kip Keino Classic meet at Nyayo National Stadium for several reasons.

Firstly, the Kip Keino Classic, now in its fifth edition, is the only World Athletics (WA) Continental Gold Tour event in Africa. For the uninitiated, the Continental Gold Tour is the second-tier international one-day meets of WA after the division one Diamond League.

Now, there are 11 on the world calendar this season, including six in Europe, two in the USA, and one each in Asia and Australia.

Secondly, the Gold Tour is open to all the global stars who want to earn more fame and fortune even as others hunt for the Paris Olympic Games qualification.

Organisers have given us snippets of which stars to expect. That appetizer indicates Saturday’s athletics mix will be sumptuous, and possibly served with nuggets of historic spices.

In that list is Ferdinand Omanyala, Africa’s fastest human being with a time of 9.77 seconds. That time ranks the former speedy rugby winger as the ninth fastest man of all time.

Omanyala broke the African record in 2021 in this very meet held at Moi International Sports Centre, and has indicated he will be going for a fast time on the fast Nyayo track. You blink and you miss another possible historical run right here on home soil.

There is Letsile Tebogo, to my mind, the next biggest African athletics star. The rising Mostwana sprinter won 100m silver and 200m bronze at last year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest as a 19-year-old fresh-faced teenager.

He ran the fastest 300m in history, 30.69sec in Pretoria on February 17, breaking the record of 30.81 set by South African Wayde van Niekerk in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on June 28, 2017 in this rarely run race.

With a personal best of 9.88 in 100m, Tebogo is no stranger to the spectacular.

He set a world Under-20 100m record of 9.94 at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in 2022 and improved that mark to 9.91 to retain his world junior title in Cali a month later.

The supremely gifted Tebogo has indicated he is ready to put on a show in Nairobi.

Kenya’s emerging 800m queen Mary Moraa has urged fans to turn up at Nyayo Stadium in large numbers as she has something special for them.

The reigning world 800m women’s champion, and second fastest woman over the distance on Kenya's all-time best list, owns a personal best time of 1:56.03. 

She has revealed intentions of dipping below 1:56 and becoming the only other Kenyan woman to have done so after the great Pamela Jelimo.

Namibia’s Christine Mboma is an especially touching case. She won silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 200 metres as a prodigious 18-year-old and clinched the 2021 Kip Keino Classic 200m crown but soon after ran afoul of WA testosterone level rules.

The poor girl has had to undergo hormonal treatment to meet WA regulations to compete in female classification events. 

Good in 100m, 200m and 400m, she is set to relaunch her career at Nyayo Stadium after 20 months out.

What an opportunity to see the 20-year-old Namibian gem, a genuinely future Olympic champion, getting her groove back. Go girl!

And the star-studded entry list reads on, and on...

Finally, entry is absolutely free. This is more than a bargain, man.

And, oh, Nyayo will on Sunday also be the venue for, easily, the biggest club football fixture in the country -- AFC Leopards v Gor Mahia.

See you all there!