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Kenya indeed region’s ‘Nation of Champions’ as Rwanda talent camps here to prepare for World Champio

Can’t beat them, join them: Salome Nyirarukundo (No. 270), the 20-year-old Rwandan prospect at the IAAF World Championships in London [August] has followed the trend of others like Britain’s Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe and Uganda Olympic hero Stephen Kiprotich to set Kenya as an athletics training base. Photo: Courtesy of [Rwanda] ‘New Times’

 Friday 23rd June 2017

The IAAF Chief Executive Officer, Olivier Gers, gave thumbs up to Nairobi as great place to stage the World U18 Championships and since then organisers are pleased with readiness of facilities before the start on July 12

Inspection team last week at Kasarani, “Home of Heroes”; from left, Paul Hardy, Events and Competitions Director IAAF; partly hidden in dark glasses facing camera, Olivier Gers, Chief Executive Officer IAAF; back to camera, Mwangi Muthee, CEO Local Organising Committee; and Gen Jackson Tuwei, President Athletics Kenya and LOC Chairman. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Inspection team last week at Kasarani’s “Home of Heroes”; from left, Paul Hardy, Events and Competitions Director IAAF; partly hidden in dark glasses facing camera, Olivier Gers, Chief Executive Officer IAAF; back to camera, Mwangi Muthee, CEO Local Organising Committee; and Gen Jackson Tuwei, President Athletics Kenya and LOC Chairman. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

BEFORE going in to inspect and then give his verdict that the venue was just right to host a world championship, IAAF Chief Executive Officer, Olivier Gers looked over the stadium at Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi’s northern suburbs as said: “Great place, I also like the theme,” pointing at the bold letters on the roof the 60,000 seat edifice built by the Chinese for Kenya’s hosting of the 4th All Africa Games way back in 1987.

The MISC Stadium at Kasarani is themed as “The Home of Heroes”. Many started their big-time track careers out here; winning the coveted places in Kenya’s African Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Olympic Games teams. They went on to become world stars including people like:

John Ngugi, Julius Kariuki, Paul Ereng’, Peter Rono, Mathew Birir, William Tanui, Joseph Keter, Noah Ng’eny,  Reuben Kosgei, Ezekiel Kemboi, Asbel Kipruto, Brimin Kipruto, Wilfred Bungei, Samuel Wanjiru, Pamela Jelimo, Nancy Lagat, David Rudisha, Conceslaus Kipruto, Eliud Kipchoge, Faith Kipyegon and Vivian Cheruiyot — each one of them an Olympic champion. Scores more, including the unprecedented javelin star, Julius Yego, rode from here to become world champions.

(Above and below) on Tuesday afternoon, re-paving the roads inside the Moi International Sports Centre in readiness for the IAAF World U18 Championships, July 12-16. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

(Above and below) on Tuesday afternoon, re-paving the roads inside the Moi International Sports Centre in readiness for the IAAF World U18 Championships, July 12-16. Photos: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Above, below and bottom, some of the re-done and painted roads inside the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani ready for the IAAF World U18 Championships, July 12-16. Photos: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Above, below and bottom, some of the re-done and painted roads inside the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani ready for the IAAF World U18 Championships, July 12-16. Photos: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

Indeed Kasarani is a home of Kenyan heroes and a befitting place for the IAAF World U18 Championships from July 12 to 16. The premises, however, intermittently suffered from neglect and sprucing it up to host the largest international sporting event Kenya has ever staged was not a mean feat for the Government of Kenya and the Local Organising Committee [LOC].

For instance, after a slight delay to the installation of a new blue synthetic track at the stadium while the material was stuck in customs, work was well under way when Gers entered the cauldron of the “Home of Heroes” on June 14.

At Kasarani inspection on June 14, from left; Ambassador Kirimi Kaberia, Principal Secretary Ministry of Sport, Culture and the Arts; Dr Hassan Wario, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Sport, Culture and the Arts; Olivier Gers, Chief Executive Officer IAAF; Mwangi Muthee, CEO Local Organising Committee, IAAF World U18 Championships, Nairobi 2017. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

At Kasarani inspection on June 14, from left; Ambassador Kirimi Kaberia, Principal Secretary Ministry of Sport, Culture and the Arts; Dr Hassan Wario, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Sport, Culture and the Arts; Olivier Gers, Chief Executive Officer IAAF; Mwangi Muthee, CEO Local Organising Committee, IAAF World U18 Championships, Nairobi 2017. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/LOC wu18nairobi2017

He was impressed, saying: “A huge amount of work has gone into the preparation of these championships and I want to thank the organising committee and everyone in Nairobi and across Kenya for the work they have put in.

“The athletes will love competing in this beautiful stadium and I hope the fans will give them the loudest of cheers.”

Since Gers’ visit, the LOC has been flooded with support, including financial from sponsors, signing partnerships with hotels, the Kenya Tourism Board. The IAAF CEO had told the LOC that they must spare no available resources to publicise the championships so that the stadium will be full in each of the five competition days. The host city’s tourism department was the first to kick-off a promotional road show on Monday expecting to reach all sections of the County and neighbouring regions.

A section of one of the dining rooms being prepared at the Athletes Village, Kenyatta University. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/wu18nairobi2017

A section of one of the dining rooms being prepared at the Athletes Village, Kenyatta University. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/wu18nairobi2017

Yesterday (Wednesday), the LOC was busy supervising finishing touches to make sure the facilities are ready before the start of the championships and well ahead of the first arrivals of the teams. A lot of refurbishing the roads and parking at the competition venue at Kasarani at the Athletes Village at Kenyatta University was being done for the LOC by the Ministry of Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development. State Department for Infrastructure Principal Secretary, Eng. John K Mosonik toured Kasarani and Kenyatta University and expressed happiness that work had gone on so well that the venues are virtually ready for the championships.

The LOC chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee was just as upbeat. “The staff at the Ministry has done a splendid work. We are hoping all other contractors will wrap-up their areas of responsibility.”

State Department for Infrastructure Principal Secretary, Eng John K Mosonik (second from right) toured Kasarani and Kenyatta University on Wednesday and said he was pleased with refurbishment of the facilities. At Kenyatta University he met the Acting Vice-Chancellor Paul Wainaina (right) the Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee (second from left) and Ndiritu Gikaria, Head of Human Resource Department at the University and who is also Chairman Of the Kenya National Sports Council. Photo: Courtesy of LOC wu18nairobi2017

State Department for Infrastructure Principal Secretary, Eng John K Mosonik (second from right) toured Kasarani and Kenyatta University on Wednesday and said he was pleased with refurbishment of the facilities. At Kenyatta University he met the Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina (right) the Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Officer Mwangi Muthee (second from left) and Ndiritu Gikaria, Head of Human Resource Department at the University and who is also Chairman Of the Kenya National Sports Council. Photo: Courtesy of LOC wu18nairobi2017

Hosting about 130 nations and approximately 2,000 athletes from around the globe will confirm world class athletics destination even if already Kenya had captured the imagination and attracted such stars as British icons Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe and Uganda Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich to make it a training base.

Now already another budding athlete, Rwanda middle-distance female talent Salome Nyirarukundo has already dropped in establish a training base in the Rift Valley for the forthcoming 16th edition of IAAF World Championships scheduled for August 4-13 in London.

Countdown to 2012 London Olympic Games in London … Britain’s Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, welcome at Iten, ‘Home of Champions’, Elgeyo Marakwet County. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN/sports-pot.com/wu18nairobi2017

Countdown to 2012 London Olympic Games in London … Britain’s Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe, were welcome at Iten, ‘Home of Champions’, Elgeyo Marakwet County. Photo: MOHAMMED AMIN

The 20-year old star is training at the Global Sports Communications Camp in Kaptagat, Eldoret-Kenya. This is the training base of Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, the man with the recent epic attempt to run the marathon in under two minutes [missed by 25 seconds].

Nyirarukundo country will be bringing their Under-18 team from the world championships in Nairobi but so far  she is the only Rwandan athlete to have qualified for the World Championships in London [in the women’s 10,000 metres].

Two weeks ago, the Rutsiro-born athlete set a new Rwanda national record in 5,000m during the Nijmegen Global Athletics Championships that took place on June 4 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

‘Team Kenya’ IAAF WU18 Championships … Edinah Jebitok (010) girls’ 1,500m. All photos including below/LOC wu18nairobi2017

‘Team Kenya’ IAAF WU18 Championships … Edinah Jebitok (010) girls’ 1,500m. All photos including below/LOC wu18nairobi2017

In Nijmegen, Nyirarukundo finished in fifth place posting 15 minutes, 34 seconds and 91 microseconds hence breaking a nine-year national record that was set by Angelina Nyiransabimana in 2008 at Jerez de la Frontera Gran Premio Andalucia in Spain. Nyiransabimana had posted 15 minutes, 43 seconds and 89 microseconds.

Now already very much at home in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County in Kenya, Nyirarukundo said: “I had a short holiday after competing in the Netherlands and this week, I will concentrate on fitness and gym work and next week is when real work on the field starts.” Everyone’s role model at Kaptagat is Kenya ace Eliud Kipchoge and the Ugandan hero Kiprotich who literally lives there.

‘Team Kenya’ IAAF WU18 Championships … Dominic Kipkemboi, boys’ 1,500m

‘Team Kenya’ IAAF WU18 Championships … Dominic Kipkemboi, boys’ 1,500m

In Kenya, training bases have a severe competition. Nandi County that nurtured legendary stars such as Kipchoge Keino, Amos Biwott, Ben Kogo, William “Bill” Koskei, Fatwell Kimaiyo, Daniel Kimaiyo, Henry Rono, Mike Boit,  Peter Koech, Wilson Kipketer, William Bungei, Janeth Jepkosgei and Pamela Chelimo pride themselves as “The Source of Champions”.

Eldoret, base of many current top Kenya athletes and the investment centre of choice when they make their millions is now popularly known as “The City of Champions”. Then there is the world renowned training base in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet, patronised by hundreds from around the world which regards itself as the world’s best training base and the current “Home of Champions.”

‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Musyoka Mwema, boys’ long jump

‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Musyoka Mwema, boys’ long jump

‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Nicholas Kiprotich, boys’ long jump

‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Nicholas Kiprotich, boys’ javelin

 ‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Beatrice Anyango, girls’ 100m sprint


‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Beatrice Anyango, girls’ 100m sprint

‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Emmaculate Chepkurui, girls’ 3,000m

‘Team Kenya’ at IAAF World U18 Championships … Emmaculate Chepkurui, girls’ 3,000m

Among the LOC partners for the IAAF World U18 Champions in the Kenya Tourism Board and they are promoting the country as an enviable sports tourism destination, imploring the visitors that the country is actually a “Magical Kenya”.

The visitors will literally have athletics experience under the banners of:

“Nation of Champions” – Kenya

“Home of Heroes” – Moi International Sports Centre’s, Safaricom Stadium, Kasarani

“Source of Champions” – Kapsabet, Nandi County

“City of Champions” – Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County

Home of Champions” – Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies