Following the conclusion of the World Athletics Diamond League Series with the dramatic final in Zurich last week, attention now turns to the Continental Tour Gold Series whose final stop for 2021 will be this Saturday’s (September 18) Absa Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi.
The second edition of the one-day meeting will be held at the iconic Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, which is still smouldering from the heat of the hugely successful World Under-20 Championships that ran from August 17 to 22.
At the launch event in Nairobi, Athletics Kenya announced that it has partnered with Absa Bank Kenya PLC as the title sponsor for the prestigious event which has attracted some of the world’s top track and field stars. Absa is investing approximately Ksh 20 million in the partnership which will go towards making the event a success.
Arrangements for the second edition Absa Kip Keino Classic are on the home stretch with international athletes already trickling into the country, led by red-hot Olympic steeplechase champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco who has bravely elected to bring the steeplechase battle to his opponents in Kenya.
El Bakkali lost in the Zurich final to Kenya’s Olympic bronze medallist Benjamin Kigen – who also holds the world’s fastest time this season (8:07.12) – and will be seeking to rub the Olympic triumph in on the Kenyans’ backyard this weekend.
Cabinet Secretary for Sports Amb. Amina Mohammed said, “We had a successful first edition of the Kip Keino Classic last year and we are really happy to run it for the second time. We are excited that it will be a series that will be running for a number of years to come as Kenya is fast becoming a destination of choice for international sporting events. We want to maintain those standards.”
She commended the private sector for playing an important role in growing the profile of sports events in the country through partnerships and sponsorships.
Athletics Kenya President Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei said “The world is changing not only in athletics but also other sports programmes. Athletics is evolving fast and the sport has become bigger. We have to be part of that growth. We need to create opportunities and competitions for our Kenyan athletes, organizers and technical teams to have more experiences and prosper.”
Absa Kenya Managing Director said the Bank has a great interest in sports because it understands the important role it plays in the betterment of our society.
“We are privileged to be part of Absa Kip Keino Classic Continental Gold Tour event as the title sponsors and we are confident that it will provide our athletes with yet another chance to live their winning spirit and show the world what Kenya is made of. On the other hand, our partnership with Athletics Kenya and the Ministry of Sports will continue supporting sports tourism and promoting our country as a great destination.” Mr Awori said.
Saturday’s meeting will also assemble one of the best ever men’s 100 metres fields ever put together on African soil with 2017 (London) world champion Justin Gatlin of the USA and his compatriot Trayvon Brommel – who at 9.77 seconds is the fastest man in the world this year – coming up against latest Kenyan sensation Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala.
About 180 athletes, including Kenya’s world 1,500 metres champions Faith Chepng’etich and Timothy Cheruiyot will converge on Kasarani for the Saturday action that will also celebrate the arrival of a top sponsor, Absa Kenya, that joins main sponsors the Government of Kenya, along with traditional supporters Safaricom.
Fresh from setting a new World Under-20 record in the 200 metres ((21.78 seconds) in Zurich last week, Namibia’s Christine Mboma returns to Nairobi, the scene of her WU-20s 200m triumph last month and is expected to ward off a stellar field that includes flamboyant American Sha’Carri Richardson.