It was three years ago, on April 27, 2007, that Athletics Kenya secretary David Okeyo announced from Dakar, Senegal, during a break at the Africa Athletics Confederation (AAC) Congress that Kenya would host the 2010 Africa Senior Athletics Championships.
And on Wednesday, the show begins. Excitement and jubilation is gripping the nation as in only two days, it promises to culminate in the arrival of the end of a long road of careful and extensive preparation.
All eyes across Africa are trained on the nation. The pressure to live up to the promise is enormous. Even the Africa Athletics Confederation President Hamad Kalkaba Malboum hopes for a better event than the last edition.
“The last edition in Addis Ababa was successful, but I hope this time round, we will see an even better event,” said Malboum at a press conference in Nairobi on Monday.
A record 812 athletes have confirmed attendance for the five-day event, and Malboum sees this as a positive achievement in the development of athletics.
“This is the highest number in the championship and athletes will be aiming to make Africa’s team to the World Cup; besides, there are no more distractions as there were in 2008,” added the president.
On Africa’s relatively poor performance in the field and sprint events, he said CAA would redouble its efforts in improving the continent’s performance.
“Kenya is working well in improving sprints and field events. The effort was evident when you fielded athletes in all events at the previous Africa Junior Championships in Mauritius. We at CAA are going to increase our effort to ensure that Africa improves in these areas,” said Malboum.
Malboum also said the first edition of the Africa Cross Country Championship will be held next year in South Africa.
It was during last year’s World Championships in Berlin that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled to have the World Cross Country Championships be held biennially.
“I can confirm that the first edition of the Africa Cross Country will be held next year, with or without any cash rewards,” Malboum said.
For the five days, Africa will anticipate every move of these sporting legends, eager to find out who is to become the continent’s beaters.
Visitors have been flocking into the country with the airport fully decked with the latest security systems with the police scouring the country’s entry points.