Following a successful World U18 Athletics Championships, President Uhuru Kenyatta says Kenya is ready to an IAAF meet in Nairobi.
“Kenya now should be talking about, not just hosting the juniors, but hosting a major IAAF meet on the African Continent. We are the home of athletics, we the home of champions,” said the President.
This declaration follows World U18 CEO revelation that Kenya could host the 2020 U20 Championships. The President promised to support that particular endeavor was speaking at State House when he hosted team Kenya which took part at the just concluded World U18 Championships. The Kenya team finished 4th with 4 gold medals.
Said the President, “Mine today is not say much. When you came last time and we gave you the flag, you have delivered on your promise. Pongezi sana. Pongezi..If you go by the numbers on Sunday, a day I really wish I was able to join you, the turn out by Kenyans who came to watch and cheer you is I think it tells in itself how Kenyans feel about you and what you did for our country.”
Kenya staged a world class event at Moi International Kasarani with more than 800 athletes from 131 countries competing. The athletes staged spectacular performance both on track and the field with Championships record erased and world leads and personal bests recorded on the newly replaced Blue tartan track.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said it was not about winning but more about participation and the ability to show that Kenya can host an event like this.
““We have worked for a long year and a half to see this event to become the success that it was, to all of you congratulations. To Muthee, General and everyone, I thank you for putting in on such an event, it shows that Kenya can host a major sporting event,” he said.
Prior to the event, The IAAF was skeptical whether the 65,000-seater will be packed. Although Kasarani met all other specifications, the IAAF felt the stadium was too big to host an age grade world athletics event.
“We are abit worried with the size of this stadium, it is bigger than for the U18. The challenge for the LOC is more of spectators and how we get fans here to cheer,” said Carlo De Angeli, who is the IAAF head of operations during IAAF delegate visit to Nairobi last year in June.
However, the Kenyan did not disappoint. Although the turnout was not promising on the first 2 day, the numbers grew bigger on Friday evening. The IAAF estimated 37,600 people attended the morning session on Saturday with 50,300 attending the evening session. That was a record breaking spectators’ figures. It was the largest ever crowd at a World U18 Championships, according to the IAAF.
It wasn’t the usual boring, silent crowd. They danced, cheered on as the Mexican wave moved in unison from North to South or whichever direction it started. Spectators made the stadium alive, it was a magical night. They had their favorites too, aside the Kenyan, Spanish Heptathlon athlete Maria Vicente, Cuba’s Jordan Vidal, South Africa Breyton Poole were among the most cheered.
IAAF CEO Olivier shared: – “Kasarani is rocking tonight for the #IAAFWorldU18Championships in Nairobi: more than 50,000 fans, largest crowd ever for U18 or U20.”
Márton Gyulai, a Double winter Olympian and TV commentator said Saturday was one of the most memorable days of my life. Gyulai joined the stadium movement, at the end of Saturday, he had lost his voice.
Kenyans obviously had craved for a world sporting event as Oliver Ogola stated, “We have been dying to get a chance to watch our athletes compete at home. Especially such young talent. Glad the games came home this time!!
One could argue perhaps it was the free entrance declaration, however Jon Mulkeen the IAAF Web editor refutes that.
“Free tickets (or tix costing next to nothing) have been offered by other recent major championships hosts, yet haven’t matched those kind of crowds.”
On the last day of the championships, spectators came as early as 9am despite the events starting at 3pm. It recorded the highest number of spectators ever witness in a sporting event in the recent past, Kasarani was packed to capacity with 65,000 people. Outside the stadium over 20,000 people were locked out.
The songs, the chants, the cheers. Deafening and when Margaret Wambui won the 800m gold medal, one could hardly express the stadium atmosphere. The Chant “Igwe! Igwe! Which means Respect” clouded the stadium.
@Cathal_Dennehy – Been at a lot of huge sporting atmospheres. Never heard or felt anything like that girls’ 800m in Nairobi. Hats off to Kenya. Amazing hosts.
@IAAF.org – Heroic performances, a party atmosphere and the friendliest hosts imaginable – #wu18nairobi2017 was a genuine epic.
@Cathal_Dennehy – Those who stayed away from @wu18nairobi2017 (US/UK/Ireland & more) missed out. An experience/atmosphere most athletes will never see again.
@oliviergers – That’s what 65,000 people ready to support #IAAFWorldU18Championships look & sound like. Amazing crowd! Thank you #Kenya!
@athleticsafrica – Thank you #Kenya 🇰🇪for hosting the World successfully, & for putting to shame those who boycotted. #Africa is proud of you. #WU18Nairobi2017
@one4onesports – The kids who ran, jumped and threw in @wu18nairobi2017 will remember this forever and might never run for crowds like this again!
The Kenyans unleashed the true magic of spectatorship, they owned the last edition of the World U18 Championships. The Kenyan spirit is truly magical. What a befitting end.