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Continental Tour likely to be held at Nyayo Stadium instead of Kasarani

By Lynette Matheka
Friday, May 22nd, 2020
The new-look Nyayo Stadium which is on the verge of completition. Photo/PD/PHILLIP KAMAKYA

World Athletics’ newly introduced one -day event, the Continental Tour, that was billed to make its debut in Nairobi on May 2 before being moved to September 26 is likely to be held at the newly refurbished Nyayo National Stadium.

Kasarani Stadium was set to host the Nairobi event before it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

World Athletics released an altered calender pushing Kenya’s event to September with the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, set to be held on August 11  opening the Tour.

Sport Kenya confirmed receipt of the request from Athletics Kenya (AK) to have the Tour held at Nyayo. 

On its part, the federation has initiated talks with the government to have the Nyayo tartan track replaced in readiness for the event.

“AK had a meeting to deliberate on the viability of using Nyayo for the Tour. We have already started the process of putting the request to the government through the ministry to have a new tartan track.

If the request goes through, it will be installed as soon as possible so that we can get World Athletics technical officials visit and credit it for use ahead of the competition,” said AK official Barnabas Korir.

Kasarani’s main stadium and the warm up area were closed in mid March to pave way for renovations as the country prepared to host the Tour in May and the World Under 20 Athletics Championship in August.

However, sections of the facility have been put to use as outdoor courts to help ease backlog of court cases at the time when the country is battling Covid-19.

Closed facilities

“Despite the courts being held at the indoor arena area, we do not know how long this will be.

We therefore had to think of an alternative and Nyayo is perfect seeing that renovations are almost done and only the tartan is needed,” added Korir.

Meanwhile, the closure of the two facilities has proven a stumbling block for track and field athletes who are preparing for the season that resumes next month.

On the World Athletics calender, the international season is likely to commence in earnest directly after the National Championships window of August 8 and 9. Diamond League is set to commence with the Oslo meeting in June.

“The two facilities remain closed and so athletes have to find alternatives. It is the times we are living in and this is affecting all of us.

Since they are not allowed to train in groups, availing the stadiums is currently impossible. More so for Kasarani, as it will need to be sanitised before athletes are allowed to use it.

Since it is being used by the public, it is out of question having our athletes training there now,” Korir said.

His sentiments were echoed by Sports Kenya Public Relations Officer (PRO)  Rakki Asman who added that it would be impossible to control the number of athletes who would want to use the facilities.

However,  some athletes have expressed concerns that current training arrangements may not be sufficient for them to reach desired fitness and preparedness levels for the season in August.

“I have no issues with strength and conditioning sessions. However,  I have been forced to do the rest of training on marked out tracks on the road and this affects speed. 

I will need at least two months of training on a better track to be ready for the season.

AK could consider having two or three athletes use Nyayo at a time to enforce distancing because our health comes firat,” said 400m runner Alphas Kishoyian.

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