World Athletics boss Coe tips Kenya to host successful competition as World Under-20 action kicks off today in Nairobi
World Athletics boss Sebastian Coe has tipped the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi to produce future global stars.
The event starts today and ends on Sunday at the Kasarani Stadium after it was postponed last year when Covid-19 pandemic paralysed sporting activities around the world.
“We did all we could given the circumstances to see the event happen. We could not afford to wait for up to five years to host another under-20 event.
Many federations and athletes are grateful that the event is happening, and it is important because one of the biggest challenges we have in athletics is keeping young people in our sport,” Coe said during a press conference in Nairobi yesterday.
Coe reiterated the importance of the junior event, underlining that it is the foundation of future super stars like world 800m record holder David Rudisha, the ambassador for Nairobi World Under-20 Championships.
Coe shared his worry that many champions of the event fall off along the way.
“Smooth transition from junior to senior has become a big challenge. Athletics statistics show that most athletes who win medals in the junior championships actually don’t make it to their national senior team.
There is a very big attrition so these championships are very critical for all our athletes to remain focused and excited about understanding the journey to becoming senior athletes.
Ages 18-21 are very critical in sports. These are the ages to motivate the athletes that they need to remain true to the sport,” he said.
He lauded the Kenyan government for successfully planning the event that will be held under difficult circumstances owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is the second biggest sporting activity after the Olympics. I’m also excited that straight after the Olympics, our season does not finish here as we get back straight to the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi which is important and I am looking forward to an exciting event.”
The World Athletics chief was accompanied by Athletics Kenya president Jack Tuwei and Rudisha.
The press conference paves way for action with Kenyan sprinter Sylvia Jelangat featuring in the individual 400m race as well as the mixed relays heats today.