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Kenya pledges security as U18 athletics worlds opens 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday evening opened the IAAF U-18 World Championships in Nairobi with an assurance to citizens and all visiting athletes that the East African nation is very secure.

“I wish to assure you that Kenya is a secure and peaceful country and continues to embrace democratic ideals as we progress in building our nation,” said Kenyatta.

Security was tight at the venue as all vehicles heading to the venue of the event must undergo security checking more than 100 meters away from the stadium and police officers are under instructions to be courteous albeit maintaining a hawk eye on people.

Kenyatta assured the international sporting fraternity of Kenya’ s commitment to ethical, clean and fair sports competition.

“My administration fully supports the fight against unfair sporting practices as part of developing this industry,” the president said as he announced free entry to the games for the remainder of the period.

He underlined the importance of sports in people’s lives.

“Sports make our bodies strong, strengthens collaboration, builds discipline and also plays an important role in international relations,” Kenyatta said.

He said sports provides people with a unique opportunity to stand as one irrespective of geography, language and creed.

Kenyatta described the championships as a special occasion for the people, saying sports occupies a unique place in the Kenyan society, a country recognized globally for producing some of the greatest athletics heroes.

“This event provides a unique platform to develop new talent and future champions,” Kenyatta said.

Kenya produced impressive performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics where they bagged six gold medals and a total of 13 medals to finish second in athletics behind the United States.

During the 2015 U-18 worlds in Cali, Colombia, young Kenyans also hauled 13 medals again in second position after the United States.

“These are examples of our senior and junior athletics teams’ tradition of exemplary performance in elite global competitions over the years,” the president said.

“We are committed to developing sports as a fully-fledged industry as part of our broader strategy for growing our economy and creating jobs for our youth,” he added.

The four-day U-18 world championships brought together over 2,000 athletes and coaches from 131 countries and regions while Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and defending champions United States announced their withdrawals from the games.


Kenya tightens security ahead of global athletics event 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government has thrown a security cordon at the venue and environs of the 2018 World Under-18 Athletics Championships that get underway on Wednesday in Nairobi.

All the facilities that will play host to the event that will run from July 12 to 16, have been secured in one of the biggest security undertakings to be seen in the country in recent times.

Contingents of armed law keepers from all security formations are leaving nothing to chance in order to secure the games that saw some teams pull out owing to purported security concerns.

“We have left nothing to chance to host secure games. Those countries that pulled out will rue the day they made their decision not to attend the event,” the CEO of the local organizing committee, Mwangi Muthee, remarked.

Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and defending champions United States have already announced their withdrawals from the games.

All vehicles heading to the venue of the event must undergo security checking more than 100 meters away from the stadium and police officers are under instructions to be courteous albeit maintaining a hawk eye on people.

A police post has been set up at the venue to deter any uncertainty that might visit the games.

The President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sebastian Coe told reporters on Tuesday that the association decided to make the event the last edition in order to shift focus to regional and continental competitions in order to give impetus to develop the sport in areas that are lagging behind.

“I wish young athletes competing this week, many of who will be travelling abroad for the first time in their lives, an enjoyable experience and a memorable time,” Coe said.

Among the athletes who passed through the ranks of the Under 18 championships are world record holders Usain Bolt (100m and 200m) and David Rudisha (800m).


Teams laud good organization in Nairobi for World Youth Championships  

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya has not spared any efforts to make visiting teams comfortable as Nairobi hosts the final edition of the World Under-18 Championships starting July 12-16.

The organisers have secured university hostels at Kenyatta University to serve as the Athletes Village and the visiting teams have so far given thumbs up sign for the service rendered.

Algeria team manager Tarik Kessti said the youth event is not taken seriously being the elementary championships by the IAAF.

However, he lauded Kenya for taking initiative to spruce up hostels of a University, which will be used even after the championships.

“This idea of coming up with an athletes’ village in the university is very good. The idea is it will be used even after the one week of the championships,” he said.

For Bahamas head coach, Rudolph Ferguson, the hospitality at the hostel are great and beyond their expectations.

“The restaurant is excellent, the service is good and transport has been well coordinated. The stadium is not far away and we have all we need to have a good championship,” said Ferguson.

“I have attended many championships with the Bahamas team but I have not come across one where each athlete has his own room.”


History in the making as Nairobi hosts World Youth Championships 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The World Under-18 Championships starts in Nairobi on Wednesday, three decades since Kenya hosted something of similar caliber, the 1987 All Africa Games.

However, it has not been easy for the country, which has pumped in almost 250 million U.S. dollars for the week-long championships that will attract over 130 countries and regions bringing along 2,000 athletes.

This is also the second time that the IAAF World Youth Championships will be hosted in Africa after Morocco hosted it in 2005.

Other than the 1987 All Africa Games, Mombasa (Kenya) also played host to the 2007 World Cross Country Championships, which brought together a record 40,000 fans with over 200 athletes.

Local Organising Committee CEO Mwangi Muthee said preparations of the event are complete and hoped the country will reclaim the overall title.

“We have done a good job, but that will be confirmed after the event. Everything is in order and now we have to sit and watch the action,” he said.

However, the event will miss out top athletes from U.S., Britain, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Switzerland who have all confirmed they will give the event a bye citing security concern and preference for the Youth Commonwealth Games to be staged in Nassau, Bahamas later this month.

Kenya topped the medals table in 1999 in Poland and 2009 in Italy and will be aiming to do so once again as the country hosts its first global track and field event.

This will be last edition of the World U18 Championships after the IAAF Council decided to discontinue the youth championships to focus towards driving regional and continental competitions.

One athlete looking forward to bring fame to her country will be Asia long Jump champion Gong Luying. The 17-year-old girl from China’s Zhejiang province is aiming for gold in Nairobi.

“I try to gain more experience and learn from others. Hopefully I can bring honour to my country in international competitions,” Gong said.

However, while the world will be focused on the performances on the field, it is the host nation that will seek to reinvigorate its breeding system for budding athletes as it looks on how to utilize the equipment that will be left behind.

“What we want first to be remembered is the quality of competition,” said IAAF CEO Olivier Gers.

“We want to make sure we leave behind a lasting legacy for athletics, for the country of Kenya and for the whole region. To have a vibrant, modern equipped stadium that can be reused in future championships is quite critical.”



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