The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: 'Mini Olympics' a Big Hit With All Fans

An estimated 15,000 spectators watched the Kenya London Olympic Games trials at the Nyayo National stadium on Saturday. Fans started streaming into the venue as early as 8am for the event dubbed the "Mini Olympics" and the most eagerly awaited athletics event in the country. A star studded cast of Olympic, world and Africa champions were on on parade with only 32 tickets up for grabs to those hoping to represent the country at the London Olympics next month. The fans were not disappointed.

The performances were electric. Kenyans of all walks of life were left marveling by what has dominated global sporting media manifesting itself before their very own eyes. KenyaVice President Kalonzo Musyoka, the chief guest, arrived at the venue at 11pm to witness the spectacular event accompanied by Sports and Youth affairs minister Paul Otuoma.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the day belonged to world 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi who after finishing his race repeated his World Championship jig culminating in a Usain Boltesque bow and arrow pose. This was what the crowds clearly wanted to see. The rapturous roar from the crowd was confirmation enough.

Kemboi waved to the crowds which had risen to its feet in salute of this man who combines performance and showbiz so effortlessly. World 800m champion and record holder David Rudisha went back to his roots showing up in Maasai moran finery, to raise the cheers after a superb win in the two lap event. This was such a performance that even the Vice President could not resist getting on his feet to applaud the 2010 IAAF "Athlete of the Year".

International press corps and athletes representatives were present at the event, keeping an eye on their athletes while hoping to sign-up the rising talent in Kenyan athletics. Security was tight with administration and regular police with metal detectors frisking all spectators going into the venue.

The Kenya Prisons brass band almost outdid itself in offering renditions of some of Kenya's most popular songs. "I know we have a strong team and I know we can do the country proud in London and we will be one of the teams to watch at the Olympics," was how Kalonzo Musyoka greeted the meeting after all had been said and done.

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