NAIROBI (July 12) – A historic occasion that was. The 10th IAAF World Under 18 Championships started in Kenyan capital on Wednesday to an eventful start. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) counterpart, Lord Sebastian Coe were chief guests, but the cheering crowd, who were salivating for an action-packed Day One were interrupted by intermittent afternoon downpour which forced officials to adjust the times for the first day’s programme or cancelled some events.
The opening ceremony was colourful, with youths matching past with flags representing various countries, followed by the First Lady, Mrs Margaret Kenyatta, who is the event’s patron, doing a ceremonial jog around the Stadium, to a resounding applause by a fairly huge crowd inside the 60,000-seater Stadium.
After the jog, the First Lady was received by the President, who was accompanied by Lord Coe, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and the Arts, Dr Hassan Wario, and acting Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, Dr Fred Matiang’i, Nairobi County Governor, Dr Evans Kidero, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Lt Gen (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei, the CEO of the LOC, Mwangi Muthee, and a host of Government functionaries and dignitaries.
After making brief remarks during which he said it was a historic occasion for Kenya to host the global competition, the second time it was being staged in the continent after Marrakech, Morocco, in 2005, Dr Wario invited Lt Gen Tuwei who made his speech then, in turn, invited Lord Coe to address the crowd.
Lord Coe invited President Kenyatta to address the crowd.
The President (Kenyatta) asked the crowd to stand for a minute’s silence in honour of former Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Lt Gen Joseph Nkaissery, who died last weekend while acting as co-chair of the Steering Committee for the organisation of the Games.
The President ordered that the public will henceforth enter Kasarani Stadium for free for the entire period of the championships.
Apart from the ceremonies and entertainment, Kenya started the first day of the five-day event with a silver medal in the women’s 3,000m, brought by Emmaculate Chepkirui in 9:24.69. The race was won by Ethiopia’s Abersh Minsewo in 9:24.62.
Beatrice Chebet was fourth in 9:33.26 behind another Ethiopian Yitayish Mekonene, who took bronze in 9:28.46.
Mathew Elijah competes in the boys 100 metres event as the World Under 18 Championship starts at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, July 12, 2017. Picture: LOC/Edward Omondi (Kenya)
The afternoon programme started with the boys 100m semi-finals. Brazil’s Arielton Dos Santos won the first heat in 10.56 secs. Retshidisitswe Mlenga of South Africa won the second heat in 10.37 secs in which Lesotho’s Mojela Eugene Koneshe was disqualified for a false start. Kenya’s Elijah Onkware Mathew, who ran in the third heat, finished sixth in 10.74 secs. The heat was won by Tyreke Wilson of Jamaica in 10.47 secs.
Japheth KIbiwott Toroitich won the fourth 800m heat in 1:53.91 ahead of Morocco’s Charaf Zahir (1:54.22) and Jan Vukovic of Slovenia (1:54.38) to qualify for the second round.
Noah Kiprono finished third in the second heat in 1:54.10 to also qualify for round two in a race won by Juan Diego Castro of Costa Rica in 1:53.19 with Morocco’s Abdellah Mouzlib coming second in 1:53.22.
Kenyans did very well in the 1,500m in the morning when Dominic Kipkemboi won the first heat of round one in 3:48.77, while George Meitamei Manangoi proving fastest in the second heat in 3:55.00. Daniel Kiprop of Uganda was third in this heat behind Ethiopia’s Belete Mekonen.
Vivian Cheptoo was unlucky in the girls’ discus where she was disqualified for an infringement.
Kelvin Sawe Tauta won the boys’ 400m third heat in 47.36 secs while David Sanayek was second in the fourth heat in 47.29, behind the winner from Jamaica, Antonio Watson (47.22).
Peninah Akoth, who carried Kenya's hopes in girls' shot putt, finished last with a single throw of 10.91. Germany's Selina Dantzler won in 17.64 and Chinese duo of Tianxiao You and Sue Sun took silver and bronze respectively, the former putting the shot 17.62 metres away and the latter 17.59 metres.