• Alem observed that there is a good reason why a certain areas in Kenya and Ethiopia have produced the best athletes across the world.
• Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago admitted that facilities in the region are in poor state and promised to finish renovations at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in the next 16 to 18 months.
Athletics stakeholders in the region have called for the formation of an African running circuit in the wake of key events being dropped from the IAAF Diamond League series.
Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya, Meles Alem, said the circuit is key if the region is going to continue nurturing talent. He said Kenya and Ethiopia need to spearhead the project and bring other countries on board.
He said athletics was about Kenya and Ethiopia as football is to Brazil.
"Athletics Kenya and Ethiopia Athletics Federation have to spearhead this project and make it work. We want to see Kenya and Ethiopia competing in Addis Ababa, Eldoret and even Iten,” he noted.
He particularly singled out 10,000m, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase which have been dropped from the Diamond League series as races of priority in the new plan.
“For us to nurture talent, we need to have more races that connect the two nations and our neighbours. Running is one language that all of us understand and is a culture of life,” he said.
He said Ethiopia and Kenya enjoy very good diplomatic relations and need to capitalise on that political goodwill to take athletics forward.
Speaking in Eldoret yesterday, on the sidelines of the Annual Athletes' Seminar, Alem said the two nations are not rivals but partners.
“It is good to have a competitor. Our athletes work hard because of Kenyans and vice versa. The biggest challenge Ethiopian runners have is first to win at home with the other being how to beat Kenyans,” said Alem.
“Running is beautiful because of Kenyans and Ethiopians. Sports go beyond ethnicity, regionalism and politics. The two nations have propelled their national flag at the international level and that is a healthy discussion.”
Alem observed that there is a good reason why a certain areas in Kenya and Ethiopia have produced the best athletes across the world.
“Just like Iten, Eldoret and Nandi in Kenya have produced world-beating athletes, the same applies to Ethiopia and we have to do more research to see why this has happened. We should go beyond our ethnicity and see the progress that comes with such areas and people living around them,” said Alem.
“When will we see the two nations organise some running circuits to nurture our athletes? It is high time that the two federations come together for the growth of the sport.”
Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei said Alem have shown tremendous respect for Kenya and the sport despite the rivalry the two nations engage in on the track.
“He (Alem) even sent us a congratulatory message when Kenya finished second at September's World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar," said Tuwei.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago admitted that facilities in the region are in poor state and promised to finish renovations at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in the next 16 to 18 months.
He supported the proposal to have a circuit within East Africa in the wake of shrinking fortunes at the Diamond League and road race circuits.
He said as a County, they will support such a venture and ensure Kenyan athletes are equally benefiting immensely.