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Kenya leaves big impression as curtain falls on IAAF U18 Worlds

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Host Kenya may have failed to come out on top as the curtains were drawn on the final IAAF World U18 Championships here today, but heroic performances and a festive atmosphere left a lasting impression on those who attended.

South Africa emerged as the overall winner with 11 medals - five gold, three silver and three bronze, coming out ahead of China, who took home 11 medals (five gold, two silver and four bronze) with Cuba third with eight medals (five gold, two silver and one bronze).

Kenya had to settle for fourth position with four gold, seven silver and four bronze, edging out perennial rivals Ethiopia to fifth with 12 medals four gold, three silver and five bronze.

A total of 27 countries and regions won a medal from the 131 teams that took part in the five-day championship.

There were myths that were debunked during the championships as well.

One of those is that an athlete must be tall in order to be a championship high jumper.

South Africa’s Breyton Poole, all of 1.72m, defied the laws of physics to take home the victory in the boys’ high jump with a whopping championship record of 2.24m.

Ever since he took up the sport at the age of 10, people have been telling him that he is not tall enough to succeed, but he managed to prove the naysayers wrong in Nairobi.


Kenyan sports fans watch games of the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan sports fans watch games of the 2017 IAAF World U18 Championships in Nairobi, July 14, 2017. XINHUA PHOTO - DANIEL OOKO


"They thought I wouldn’t be able to adapt to it because I was so short," he said.

"I proved them wrong."

The 60,000 fans who thronged the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday may have had a ringing in their ears for several hours afterwards, thanks mainly to the exploits of Kenya’s Jackline Wambui, who powered away to win the girls’ 800m and lead a 1-2 with teammate Lydia Jeruto Lagat.

Wambui’s winning time was 2:01.46, but in the mayhem that gripped the stadium afterwards, no one was looking at the clock.

The Kenyan pair set off on a lap of honor, with thousands of adoring fans chanting, cheering, waving and worshipping their new heroines.

Another thing that made the vent memorable was the enthusiasm of the fans.

Decked out in their national colours, Kenyan fans filed through the gates of the stadium each day beaming with wide smiles, extending their arms in welcome to the world’s best athletes in this age catagory.

Their support was palpable anytime their nation’s athletes took to the track or field.

Whether it was a high jumper clearing a bar in warmup, a thrower unleashing a personal best in qualifying or a middle distance athlete storming to victory, they roared in support all week, creating an incredible atmosphere for live sports.

Now, the focus turns to the London World Championships in August.


Kenya Bask In Glory of Successful World U-18 Championships

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya sports officials are basking in the glory of hosting one of the most successful World U18 champion-ships in its history.

The officials now want the world to take Kenya seriously as a sports destination.

Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei says the event success has unlocked the potential the country has to stage other top competition even beyond track and field.

Kenya spent over 2 billion U.S. dollars to stage the event including buying new equipment.

“We have proved to the world that we have the fans and the stadium.

“Now we need to get sponsors and bid for bigger competitions,” he said.

The World Championships and continental football competitions are on the card, though the reluctance with the government to endorse such bids remains the biggest hurdle.

During the five day World Under-18 Championships in Athletics Kenya finished fourth overall after bagging 15 medals in total (four gold medals, seven silver and four bronze medals) behind South Africa, China and Cuba.

However the absence of giants United States of America, Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Japan leaves a lot to be desired. The seven countries opted not to risk sending their teams to Kenya citing security concerns.

But as the curtain came down on the championship, Local Organising Committee chairman Jack Tuwei said he was impressed with the standards shown by Kenyan teams and organisers.

“I’m happy with our team for emerging fourth overall though they had many medals than other countries.

“They have done us proud and that should be the way to go in future events,” said Tuwei.

He also said that the success of the event showed that Kenya can host one leg of the IAAF Diamond League Series and even the Senior World Championships in Athletics.

“Our ability to deliver this event to success has shown that we can even have a Diamond League series or World Champ-ionships and I want to thank the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) for believing in us,” added Tuwei.



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