The pointer to what would be expected during the Rio Olympic trials will be enacted this weekend when the last Athletics Kenya pre-competition Meeting takes place in Eldoret from Thursday morning.
In the region synonymous with running, the three days activities is being keenly awaited with baited interests with track coaches parading their best as the build-up to the August Summer Olympics engages the top gear.
And for the second time in the region’s athletics history, the build-up stopper will be held on the tartan after Kipchoge Stadium was upgraded to international standards last year.
The track and field activities, to be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, will be overwhelming with the county’s top brass taking to the new track to up their speed ahead of the grass root competitions that will launch the programme for the Africa Athletics Championships in June and the Olympic Games in August.
According to Central Rift Athletics Kenya officials, preparations for the competitions, the last of the six-tier series, have been finalized and both the athletes and spectators are expected in their thousands.
“All is set for the 6th Athletics Kenya Weekend Contest. Most of our top class and up-and-coming runners will be participating in both the track and field events. This will be their last local competition before the International Association of Athletics Federation’s Diamond Meeting and subsequent League in Europe,” said Central Rift Region AK Secretary Kennedy Tanui.
As witnessed in Nakuru during the 4th Meeting of the calendar, multiple champions Asbel Kiprop, Paul Kipsiele, Nixon Chepseba, Silas Kiplagat, Viola Kibiwott, Mercy Cherono, Vivian Cheruiyot, Margaret Nyairera, Eunice Sum and dozens elite athletes have been training for the Meeting and heated rivalry from new competitors known to cause upsets during local competitions cannot be ruled out.
Borrowing from the history of the affiliate that prides in accommodating the highest concentration of top class athletes in the world, an unpredicted number will throng the North Rift town, baptized ‘The City of Champions’ and the programme must be re-designed to accommodate the number of heats particularly in the middle distant events.
“We have put into considerations the great number that may turn up especially on the first day. We are going to have several heats and semis and officials who are going to man the event must be thorough and fast. We must do our best. The track is fine and in good conditions,” added Barnabas Kitilit, the Central Rift AK Vice-chairman.
During the last excursion in Kisii at the beginning of the month, a world class field decorated the competitions despite the venue, initially attracting the top cream owing to its fast time returns, turning away the best last year including 800metres World record holder David Rudisha.
The upgrading of Kipchoge Stadium to the international specification has shift the trend of national competitions and boosted training of a number of athletes who use the region’s high altitude during their preparations.
This is the first public tartan facility in Kenya outside the capital. Kenya-turn Dutch Lornah Kiplagat has put a similar track in Iten, some 32kilometres North East of Eldoret but runs it as private facility.
Eldoret is going to be last build-up competitions after the five meetings that saw athletes compete in Bondo in Nyanza North, Mumias in Western, Thika in Central Region, Nakuru in the South Rift and Kisii in Nyanza South.
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