Ten sporting events to look forward to in 2020
The Tokyo Olympics is the big one but a host of continental athletics events and football tournaments in Africa, Europe and South America make up a rich menu for fans both locally and abroad this year...
1. African Athletics Championships
Algerian capital Algiers will host the 22nd African Athletics Championships from 24 to 28 June where Kenya will be seeking to assert her dominance once more.
Kenya were top of the medal standings table in Asaba, Nigeria two years ago after managing 19 (11 gold, six silver and two bronze) with big names such as Elijah Managoi, Hellen Obiri, Conseslus Kipruto and Beatrice Chepkoech winning gold.
Being al Olympics year, most of these big names are likely to use to the continental event as a tune up for the big one in Tokyo.
2. World Under-20 Championships
Kenya will play host to a second junior athletics event in three years. Having successfully hosted the 2017 World U18 Championships, Nairobi were given the rights to the 2020 World U20 and while there has been slow progress on preparations, the event, slated for July 7-12 at Kasarani Stadium is set to bring together a host of upcoming athletes from across the world.
Kenya are also the defending champions in this event, having won 11 medals (six gold, four silver and one bronze) in Tampere, Finland in 2018 and being at home, the pressure could not be any higher.
3. Euro 2020
This will, quite literally, be a European Championship like no other, 24 teams competing across a host of cities, including Rome, Baku, Amsterdam, Dublin and Bilbao with the semi-finals and final taking place at Wembley.
England will hope to go all the way and should at least get out of their group given they have been drawn alongside Croatia, Czech Republic and a yet-to-be confirmed play-off winner.
However, holder Portugal, world champions France, resurgent Netherlands, former champions Spain and even Germany will have something to sat about that.
The tournament take place from June 12 to July 12.
4. Tokyo Olympics
The standout event of the year and the second time Tokyo will host the summer Games, having first done so in 1964.
Medals will be up for grabs in 33 different sports in the Japanese capital from July 24 to August 9 which includes five new sports, baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing.
For Kenya, it will be an opportunity to harvest more medals especially from athletics with leading names such as Eliud Kipchoge, David Rudisha, Conseslus Kipruto and Collins Injera set to play a major part.
5. World Indoor Championships
The 18th World Athletics Indoor Championships will be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, China at the newly-built Nanjing’s Cube gymnasium at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Sports Park.
This is the city’s first hosting of the event. Kenya had one of their worst Indoor Championships in 2018 when Bethwell Birgen became the only medalist in Birmingham, England when he won a bronze medal and hopes are high that 2020 will yield a better return.
6. Paralympic Games
Two weeks after the Olympic closing ceremony, the torch is passed to the Paralympic Games.
Also held in Tokyo, the Paralympics will welcome 4,400 athletes competing in over 500 events.
Kenyan athletes will be out to make the country proud given the bulk of the country’s medals have always come from athletics with sports such as weightlifting, swimming and boxing expected to bring in a few.
7. Safari Rally return
The return of Safari Rally to the World championships after an 18-year hiatus and being fixed into the calendar of International Automobile Federation (FIA) was the greatest achievement of Kenya Motorsports Club Federation last year.
Backed by their strong presence in the African Rally Championship (ARC), a second-tier FIA event, Safari Rally, one of the global legendary fixtures, made a comeback to the global stage, restoring hopes of millions of fans in the region. The event will take place from July 16-19.
8. Africa Cross-Country Championships
Togolose capital Lome will host the sixth edition of the Africa Cross-Country Championships in April.
Kenya again dominated the podium at the competition in 2018 in Chlef, Algeria, taking the top two spots in the senior men’s, senior women’s, and junior men’s races, as well as runner-up in the mixed relays.
That means the Kenyan trials set for February 8 will be competitive as a number of runners seek tickets in the team to Lome.
9. Women’s Africa Cup of Nations
The 12th edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations will take place from November 28-December 12 at a yet to be confirmed venue after the Democratic Republic of Congo withdrew as hosts.
The 2020 tournament will be expanded from eight to 12 teams with defending champions Nigeria out for a record extending 12th title.
Kenya, who last featured in the 2016 tournament, will not be involved this time around, however, as they did not qualify.
10. Copa America
A last chance perhaps for Lionel Messi to win something for Argentina. The 2020 Copa America will start on June 12 in Argentina and the final match will be held in Colombia on July 12.
For the first time, the tournament will have two host countries. The objective is to bring South American soccer to all the fans in the continent. Each of the host countries will have group phase matches, two quarter final matches and a semifinal match respectively.
Pressure is on Messi and Argentina but holders Brazil, their predecessors Chile and former winners Uruguay are also considered favourites.