Nairobi is preparing to host, 3 October 2020, the first World Athletics Continental Tour Meeting on African soil. The anticipation over the tour is high, partly because it will be the first major athletics event on the continent since the coronavirus struck.
“This is an event that is really important, especially for Africa,” says Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei. “It is going to open our sports in the country and most likely in Africa, because since Covid-19, there has not been any major championship in Africa.”
Nairobi was to host the World Athletics U20 Championships this year but the event was rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the Continental Tour is giving Athletics Kenya another chance to put on a great show this year.
“We want to organise it bearing in mind that the success of the Continental Tour in Nairobi will also resonate on how Africa can organise events,” says Tuwei.
“It will give us an opportunity to ensure that other events can spring up all over Africa, so that we are also able to have our own series that can help and build athletics on our continent.”
The meet – named the Kip Keino Classic after distance legend Kipchoge Keino – was initially planned for May but was moved twice to its current date of 3 October. However, the organisers are no less enthusiastic.
“A lot of disruption was experienced not only in preparations but also the athletes were affected and so it was a bit of a challenge when it was postponed. But we are very excited and looking forward to hosting a very successful event,” says Tuwei.
There are five core events in the gold meeting series this season – the 200m, 3000m steeplechase, triple jump, discus throw and hammer throw for both men and women. The Nairobi meet will also include javelin throw, the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m. The organisers have also included some national events to give local athletes the chance to compete in a season ripped to shreds by the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting will take place at the Nyayo National Stadium, which is newly refurbished to meet the standards of World Athletics competitions.
Helen Ngoh for World Athletics