What it means for Kenyan athletes and the locals when the Olympic Trials are done in Eldoret, by Justin Lagat
There is a reason why Eldoret town is rightfully referred to as the “City of Champions.” Almost all the world champions in the country either live around the town or have their businesses here. For example, all the current world champions who represented Kenya last year in Beijing; Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi, Hyvin Kiyeng, Nicholas Bett, Julius Yego, Vivian Cheruiyot and David Rudisha all come from Eldoret and its environs.
Last year while travelling to Nairobi to attend the national trials, almost all the public vehicles heading out of Eldoret were carrying athletes. Other athletes were travelling in their private cars. It left me wondering why the trials would not be done in Eldoret and save the athletes the trouble of traveling. After all, even the athletes who hail from other parts of the country also often move to the areas around Eldoret and live here during their training.
However, word is now out that the Rio Olympic Trials are to take place from 14th to 15th of June at the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret.
This is what it means:
1. More cheering squads from family and friends
Not all relatives, training partners and friends are able to travel to Nairobi to watch their favorite athletes compete in the national trials. Bringing the trials closer to their homes will be great news to the fans as well as the athletes.
I have never seen a crowd anywhere else in Kenya half the size of the one that usually turn up to watch athletic events at Eldoret’s Kipchoge Stadium.
2. Less expenses for travel and accommodation
Athletes, coaches and fans who would have had to travel to Nairobi and stay in hotels there will now remain in their homes and only commute to the stadium during the trials.
3. Athlete’s training programs will be affected the least
Travelling to Nairobi by road would means that most athletes would spend almost the entire day on the roads and would arrive in Nairobi when they are tired from traveling. They will need some time to recover before running and probably spend another night there after the trials before heading back to their usual training places.
In Eldoret, the athletes will simply wake up as usual in their homes to attend the trials and if they fail to make the Olympic team, they will be back in their training in the evening of the same day.
4. It will give more focus on the track facilities in Eldoret
Local sponsors will watch the crowds that will turn up in Eldoret and will hopefully get interested in sponsoring more athletic events in the venue. The government will also see the use and the importance of good track facilities in the town and may increase funding for more renovations.
5. Local businesses in the town will profit.
From hotels to taxi operators, the local businesses will benefit from local and international visitors who will be in town to watch the Kenyan Olympic trials.