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Kenya hopes to dominate Africa Athletics Championships in Nigeria

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is hopeful that half of its 60-member team heading to the Africa Athletics Championships will qualify for the IAAF Continental Cup, which will be held in Ostrava, Czech Republic in September.

Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jack Tuwei has warned elite athletes that they must give their best to secure tickets to the Africa Championships during the Kenyan trials in Nairobi in June.

The Africa Championships will be held in Asaba, Nigeria in August.

Speaking in Nairobi, Tuwei said that with no Olympics or World Championships, the Africa Championships remains the top competition in the continent and each athlete must strive to make the Kenyan team.

“We have many elite runners and many opted not to compete in the Africa Championships in 2016. But this year is different, [the] top two winners in each discipline will secure [a] ticket to the IAAF Continental Cup and we want to have as many Kenyans as possible in the Africa team,” he said on Friday in Nairobi.

The last Intercontinental Cup was held in Marrakech, Morocco in September 2014. Africa, Europe, America and the Asia-Pacific will each send one team to compete in the tournament.

Each team will have a legendary athlete as an honorary captain with Africa nominating Moroccan Nezha Bidouan, the legendary 400m hurdler.

In the last tournament, Europe topped the medal table with 16 golds ahead of America, who secured 12 and Africa who finished third by clinching 11 gold medals.

 “We have made changes in our calendar of events so as to admit as many elite runners as possible and not disrupt their programs at the Diamond League. National trials for [the] African Championships were originally set for July 5-7 but will now take place on June 21-23 so as to give a chance to our athletes to participate at the Zurich Diamond League,” Tuwei said.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be held in September in Ostrava.

 “The new competition format will mean more drama, not only for the individual events but also in the team competition. It should also bring more fun for the spectators,” Tuwei said.



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