NAIROBI (July 4) – Kenya’s First Lady, Mrs Margaret Kenyatta on Tuesday officially received the Athletes Village at the Kenyatta University that will be used to host the 1,400 athletes during the 10th IAAF World Under 18 Championships.
That was the penultimate stage towards staging of the event that will take place at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, from July 12-16.
The First Lady was taken through a tour of the facilities like kitchen, massage rooms and hostels at the University ground where she was received by the Chancellor, prof Paul Wainaina and the senior staff.
From Kenyatta University, the First Lady proceeded to the Kasarani ground where she inspected the warm up track, terraces, Media Centre, Doping Control Rooms and ended her tour by addressing the Media.
“Today is a very exciting day for us as we gear up to launch the 10th Edition of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Under 18 Championships. Indeed, a historic event for our country and for the East African region that will take place in the next 8 days in our capital city, Nairobi,” said the First Lady.
“This will be second biggest sporting event that Kenya is hosting since the 1987 All Africa Games.
“My tour today begun at the Athletes Village at Kenyatta University - where I inspected the accommodation facilities, dining and kitchen as well as recreational facilities - and I can confirm that we are ready to receive the first team of 31 participants from Poland arriving later this evening.
“I have also visited the track and field areas at Moi International Sports Centre, and I am satisfied that actualisation of the logistical and operational plans for the championships are well on course.
“I have over the past months witnessed the results of a seamless operation and planning of this significant event – it has taken a multi-agency, team effort - and I am happy to report the fruits of efforts are evident, and we will be ready to launch the championships to the world by 12th July, 2017.
“We are expecting over 1,400 athletes of various s disciplines from 130 countries – this is a record attendance out of the 125 registered member countries. For me, the upcoming IAAF World Under 18 Championships offer a fantastic opportunity for us to recognise the diverse talents and abilities of youth across the world. Every competing athlete will serve as an inspiration to young people globally
“We are especially proud of all the young Kenyan athletes, some of who I have met today, who are, even now, hard at work preparing to participate. You have the best mentors and champions - Catherine Ndereba, Pamela Jelimo, Julius Kariuki, Noah Ngeny, John Ngugi among others - who have set the stage before you and proven to you, and to the world that success is within all our reach.
“You too will be on stage in the next few days to showcase your diverse sporting abilities to your peers and to the world.
“As Patron, I see the championships as an opportunity for Kenyans to celebrate, applaud and encourage our youth to pursue sports as a career.
“To Team Kenya, I want to wish you all the very best in your preparations, and offer my unyielding support and admiration. We are all rooting for you and optimistic that Kenya will emerge as the international champion this year.
“In the next few days, Kenya will be in the limelight, not only for the sporting fraternity, but to the thousands of visitors expected into the country. So I urge us all, the media, the Local Organising Committee and partners - all of us - to ensure that we deliver a world class championship and that the event will reflect the very best of our country.
“Let us demonstrate to the world our professionalism, our capability and a peaceful people,” said the First Lady.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and the Arts, Dr Hassan Wario, said 98 per cent of the work has been done, adding that only the “software’ element is remaining.
He commended the Local Organizing Committee for doing what he described as splendid work and working tirelessly within a short period, but urged them not to relent and complete the work.
He said since handing over the flag (of hosting the event) to the First Lady, and accepting to be the event’s Patron, things took a dramatic turn.
Kenyas first lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta inspects facilities at the athletes village Kenyatta University on July 4, 2017. Photo/Mohammed Amin/LOC
“You are a hands on patron and your impromptu site visits have ensured work continues in all venues. It gave us the impetus to push on,” said Dr Wario.
After the speeches, Safaricom handed over a cheque donation of KES 104,000,000 to the First lady as their contribution towards the event.
The donation will cover wireless connectivity in all venues, WiFi at Kenyatta University.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Mwangi Muthee, urged Kenyan youths to plant indigenous trees and gain access to the championships. The LOC is working in conjunction with the Wangari Mathai Foundation to promote afforestration around the country. This is work being done in collaboration with the IAAF Council for Responsible Sport.
Isaack Omulo (www.wu18nairobi2017.com)