UoE hosts first AK Track and Field meeting as athletes begin build up for busy 2020 calendar
By Amos Abuga and Emmanuel Masinde
The road to the Olympics Games planned for July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan for Kenyan athletes begins in Eldoret when the University of Eldoret (UoE) hosts the first Athletics Kenya (AK) Track and Field meeting tomorrow.
The event, initially planned for Kipchoge Keino Stadium, had to be moved to UoE because the stadium is still under renovation.
During the two-day event, athletes will compete in all track and field events apart from pole vault and the 3,000m steeplechase for both men and women.
AK senior vice president also in charge of competitions Paul Mutwii says the weekend meetings will be crucial as the country gets itself in the mood for the Africa Athletics Championships and the Olympics.
“We have to agree the cross country championships that culminated in the selection of team Kenya to the 2020 Africa Cross Country Championships in Lome, Togo ended well,” said Mutwii, adding that the Eldoret meet will be key for athletes, considering the Olympics trials will be held in Eldoret.
“This is a reminder that 2020 is special to our athletes because of what is at stake. We are hoping athletes will take the track and field competitions seriously because it will help them prepare well for the two major events,” he added.
However, the slow pace of renovation works at Kipchoge Keino Stadium has drawn the ire of the Eldoret meeting organisers, who feel the government is dragging its feet and might be time barred to even host the Olympics trials at the stadium in June.
“Kipchoge Keino stadium is closed forcing us to use a substandard track instead of a tartan track. It is not good for both athletes and technical team working hard to ensure they get correct results,” said AK Central Rift chairman Abraham Mutai.
He added: “We were surprised after visiting the facility as it is still in a worrying state. Still bushy and not fit for competition especially of this magnitude.”
After Eldoret, the second meet will be held in Nairobi on March 5-6 with Embu hosting the third on March 21-22 before the fourth and final round in Kisumu from May 4-5.
The weekend meets will culminate in the national championships that will also double up as the trials for Africa Championships earmarked for June 24-28 in Algeria.