NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – An old adage goes, “give them their roses when they can still smell them.” It is on these lines that Athletics Kenya decided to name the first ever global one day meet to come to Kenya, the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour, in honor of Kenyan athletics icon Kipchoge Keino.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Dr. Keino says he is greatly honored to have the first ever global meet named after him.
“It is a great honor for me that Athletics Kenya named this event after me. I am really proud and pleased that the youth of the world will come to Kenya and compete and also see what we have done for Kenyan athletics,” Kip Keino stated.
He added; “This is also a great opportunity for our youth to learn from the rest of the world and gauge their performance on home soil.”
The Continental Gold Tour had initially been scheduled for May, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was to be staged this Saturday, but with the Doha leg of the Diamond League scheduled for Friday, it was pushed forward by a week.
Dr. Kip Keino says he will be in the stadium to watch the event and admits he is as excited as a little baby on his first day in school.
Preparation for the event has gathered pace with a preliminary list of athletes already published. The star studded event is set to attract some of the biggest names in the region.
The Ethiopian duo of Muktar Edris and Selemon Barega as well as Moroccan steeplechaser Soufiane El Bakkali are some of the foreign stars expected in.
From our own home-grown champions, Conseslus Kipruto, Timothy Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri, Mercy Cherono and Julius Yego are expected to grace the event.
There will be three categories of competition; the national discretionary and core events. The national and discretionary events will start in the morning at 8am while the core events will start at 4pm with the event set to end at 6pm.
Athletics Kenya Senior Vice President Paul Mutwii has said preparations are in top gear for the event and also disclosed they will hold a test event on Saturday with the 200m, 400m and 800m to try out the track as well as the electronic timers.
“We have seen how the event has gone in other countries and we also want to ensure that we organize an event with the same standards or even better,” Mutwii stated.
In terms of COVID-19 protocols, Meet Director Barnaba Korir has said there is a committee in place working with the Ministry of Health to have all visiting athletes tested at the airport. He also stated they will all stay at a bio-secure ‘bubble’ in a yet to be identified hotel to ensure they remain safe.
The meet organizers are also scheduled to release guidelines for purchase of tickets with the government having stated that only 6,000 fans will be allowed into the Nyayo National Stadium.