KORIR: Africa event offers 'perfect' platform for our athletes - Daily Nation

Why Africa event offers 'perfect' platform for our athletes

Thursday June 28 2018

Conseslus Kipruto (left) reacts after crossing the finish line to win the men's 3,000m steeplechase final during the Athletics Kenya National Championships at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on June 23, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |

Conseslus Kipruto (left) reacts after crossing the finish line to win the men's 3,000m steeplechase final during the Athletics Kenya National Championships at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on June 23, 2018. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BARNABAS KORIR
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While I agree the focus is fully on the 2018 Russia World Cup, I must note that the next big thing will no doubt be the Africa Athletics Championships in Nigeria.

Going by the list selected last weekend by Athletics Kenya, it actually feels like the IAAF World Championships or rather the IAAF World Cup in itself for the local athletics fraternity.

For the first time in a while, Kenyans are taking the Africa Championships seriously and even the list of athletes selected reads like the "who is who" in the athletics spheres.

Apart from a few sprinters in the squad, the team selected is not your usual list of rookies.

The team actually comprises heavyweights who have always represented Kenya at both the Olympic and World Championships stage.

For example, the 400m hurdles, has the siblings Aron Koech - who is picking up very well - and former world champion Nicholas Bett.

Former World champion Eunice Sum and Commonwealth silver medallist Margaret Nyairera headline the women’s 800m list while Emmanuel Korir headlines the men's two-lap race.

The men's 1,500m will have the ever formidable Timothy Cheruiyot and world champion Elijah Manangoi as the world and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto takes care of business in the men's 3,000m steeplechase.

MAN TO WATCH

Olympic silver medallist Julius Yego will be the man to watch in javelin alongside Alex Kiprotich while World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri will fly the country’s flag in the 5,000m.

The list is long with some of our stalwarts in last year's World Under-18 also making the Africa Championships team.

The message here is that contrary to the trend set earlier by the so called elite athletes, there are no longer "small events" and every race counts towards the big achievements.

I am sure with this kind of build-up we will no doubt achieve our target of being represented in each and every event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

For the first time, athletes in every department including sprints, mid and long distance and field events have been given a chance to prove themselves ahead of next year’s 2019 World Championships in Doha Qatar.

Nigeria will no doubt provide a perfect platform especially for the rising stars to make a statement ahead 2019 global show and 2020 Olympic Games.

Every event counts and I would like to urge athletes to take this event seriously. I remember the launching pad for World 800m record holder David Rudisha and former world champion Pamela Jelimo was the Africa show in Addis Ababa in 2008.

You too can launch your career in Nigeria.