Kenya successfully hosted the last edition of the World Under18 Championships in Nairobi this month with the mastery characteristic of a sporting nation.
The five days of action brought the world home and the event will go down in history as it marked end of the 18 years old International Association of Athletics Federation global youth championship event that was launched in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 1999.
It was a great honour bestowed on the country which has participated in all the 10th editions with immense success, always topping the medal table or coming 2nd in the biannual championships that was inaugurated for youths aged between 16 and 17 years.
Although the competitions have been removed from the IAAF calendar of events, the championships have significantly given Kenya the opportunity to indentify and nurture global conquering heroes and heroines.
Right from the inception in Poland in 1999, then known as IAAF World Youth Championships, renown Kenyans athletes have come from the production line that mainly targeted primary and high school students.
Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei, later re-branded ‘Eldoret Express’, Cornelius Chirchir, Viola Jelagat Kibiwott pioneered in the championship with the former going on to win the global title in Osaka in 2007 and silver medal in Beijing Olympics in 2008.
During the second edition in Debrecen, Hungary, in 2001, Kenya discovered the potentials in Olympic champions Vivian Cheruiyot, Brimin Kipruto among others who have become Kenya’s athletics household names.
Others in subsequent championships include Augustine Choge, Mercy Cherono, Timothy Kitum, Faith Chepng’etich ending with the newly crowned medalists led by George Manangoi (1,500m), Jacline Wambui (800m), Leonard Bett (2,000m S/Chase) and Caren Chebet (2,000m S/Chase) and 11 more who came to the fore.
It was a glorious ending to an event synonymous with Kenyans and in Kenya
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