Athletics is being brought to the land of champions at the Kip Keino Classic meeting


This is Justin Lagat's piece for RunBlogRun on the new opportunities for Kenyan athletes in the domestic environment, with the Kip Keino Classic as a prime example!

After descending down from 2100m of altitude in Eldoret; the city of champions to 1795m in Nairobi, I am now ready and looking forward to some great athletics action tomorrow in Kasarani Stadium; the Home of Heroes.

From the source of champions (Nandi County) to the home of champions (Iten), to the city of champions (Eldoret), among others, the fame of Kenyan runners has seen different destinations in the country being christened with new names.

Things are even getting better at the moment as Kenya seems to be getting the attention it deserves as the best place to host some of the world's biggest athletic events.

Justin Lagat kip keino preview .jpgPurity Kirui, Peruth Chemutai, Faith Kipyegon, and Mercy Cherono getting ready for tomorrow. Picture from Mercy Cherono

This will continue to have a ripple effect in growing athletics in the country given the interest that the local companies are now having in being associated with these events, at different levels. In the past, it used to be challenging for a Kenyan runner to get sponsorship from both local and international companies given that the international companies would want to be associated with a runner who lives amongst the people in places where their products are being sold, while the Kenyan companies would want to see the athletes in events within the country where the local public would meet and interact with the general public and with the media from within.

From the recent World Athletics U20 championships that happened in the same stadium that will host the Kip Keino Classic World Continental Tour tomorrow, the Kenyan public has had the opportunity to cheer their athletes at home and get to know them much more than they would have been if the events were happening out of the country. The fan base is rapidly growing.

One of the most anticipated events tomorrow will be the men's 100m race where the local fans are eager to see how Ferdinand Omanyala who reached the semi-finals of this event at the Tokyo Olympic Games will fare against some of the world's best runners in this event. He will be up against USA's Justin Gatlin and Trayvon Bromell, among other top runners.

The men and women 300m steeplechase event will also be of great interest to the home fans. Kenyan runners lost the two events in Tokyo last month, and they definitely will not want to lose them again on their home ground. Interestingly, both Olympic champions of the event; Soufiane El Bakalli and Peruth Chemutai are in the country. Kenyan stars ready to take them down are Benjamin Kigen and Amos Serem on the men's side, and Hyvin Kiyeng, Celliphine Chespol, Purity Kirui and Rosefline Chepngetich on the women's side.

The trending stories in Kenyan tomorrow will definitely be on the athletes who will be producing some great performances during the last event of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series!

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