•While the original intention was to help showcase Kenya’s best athletes to an international audience, the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Nairobi has achieved a lot more in developing human capacity.
•Kip Keino Classic meet director Barnaba Korir reckons that the event affords athletes a timely elite-level platform to gauge their preparedness ahead of the World Athletics Championships slated for July 15 to July 24 in Oregon, United States.
Kenya is set to host the Kip Keino Classic third edition at Moi Stadium, Kasarani in Nairobi on May 7.
The event is part of the Continental Tour Gold series by World Athletics. It was named after two-time Olympic champion Kipchoge Keino — the legendary Kenyan athlete who stole the limelight on the track in the '60s and '70s.
Launched in 2020, the annual showpiece is steadily gaining fame as a major world-class event. A stellar list of world beaters drawn from Africa and other continents will flex muscles at the Gold level for prize money and world ranking.
Among them is the Olympic 100m champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs who jets in this week.
Other luminaries are Olympic 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley (USA), Olympic 200m silver medalist Kenneth Bednarek (USA), and three-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica), Olympic 200m silver medalist Christine Mboma, and Olympic hammer throw champion Wojciech Nowicki of Poland.
The Tour has carved a niche in the world of athletics as a top-ranking one-day meet.
With the clock ticking fast and only three days left, the countdown has begun with athletes already limbering up for the momentous occasion.
While the original intention was to help showcase Kenya’s best athletes to an international audience, the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Nairobi has achieved a lot more in developing human capacity.
Other than the athletes who are the main stars of the event, the ballooning list of beneficiaries includes journalists, commentators, camera crew, event organizers, technicians as well as stadium announcers.
There is some good news for local athletics enthusiasts. The Kip Keino Classic meet will allow 100 percent spectator attendance, a stark contrast to the last event where fans were locked out of the stands over Covid safety concerns.
Every athlete, coach, or manager must be fully vaccinated to participate in the event.
Every athlete, coach, or manager needs to present a negative PCR test performed in the last 48hrs to get accredited to the meeting and to be granted access to the hotel, training venue, and competition venue.
That is not to say that the organizers have thrown caution to the wind. Every athlete, coach, or manager will need to undergo a second PCR test upon arrival at the hotel. A more elaborate Covid protocol will be shared with all invited athletes, managers, and coaches.
The Organising Committee announced on Monday, that tickets will go on sale in the days following May 4.
Hopefully, this year's event will produce the sparks that characterized the preceding Tour.
The key highlight of the second edition of the Tour held on September 18, 2021, was Namibia’s 18-year-old Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma's new 200-meter World Under 20 record.
The event also gave birth to Kenya's sprint sensation Ferdinand Omanyala who put up a gallant showdown against the USA to produce two of the fastest performances in 100-metres history. Bromell won in a world-leading 9.76 ahead of Omanyala’s African record of 9.77.
Kip Keino Classic meet director Barnaba Korir reckons that the event affords athletes a timely elite-level platform to gauge their preparedness ahead of the World Athletics Championships slated for July 15 to July 24 in Oregon, United States.
Hopefully, Kenya will grab this glorious opportunity to market itself as a major tourist destination.