Kenya: Iten Feted as World Athletics Heritage Landmark

(file photo).
3 December 2020

A plaque in recognition of Iten township in Elgeyo-Marakwet County as a global World Athletics Heritage landmark was unveiled on Thursday in a function graced by Sports, Culture and Heritage Cabinet secretary Amina Mohammed.

The plaque which was handed over to the county government two weeks ago was awarded to the town by World Athletics for its contribution towards global athletics.

The function was also attended by British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott, Athletics Kenya leaders and county government officials.

Mohammed said the plaque will be a symbol of pride to the country since no other such achievement has been attained in the county and the whole nation.

"We have unveiled this plaque today because it's an honour to the whole country and subsequently the entire continent," said Amina.

Amina mentioned that the national government is proud of the achievement and will do everything to make sure that the township maintains the pride.

"Sporting is the cornerstone of this town and this town is the country's athletic capital. That the World Athletics gave us such pleasure is of great importance to us," she added.

Marriott said she is happy to have graced the historic occasion.

"Iten has more champions than any place on the earth and this is beyond any reasonable doubt. That it has been recognised is a great pleasure to all of us who want to be associated to it," she said.

Members of athletics fraternity who spoke during the unveiling expressed happiness that at long last, their efforts have been rewarded.

Brother Colm O'Connell, a renowned Irish athletics coach who has lived in the town most of his adult life, said he could not be more proud when he heard of the global recognition.

"As someone whose hands have molded a good number of these successful athletes, this is the proudest moment in my coaching career here in Iten. I will live to remember this day," said the senior athletics coach.

AK President Jack Tuwei said that as a federation they will do all they can to maintain the town's position as a leading athletics hub.

According to World Athletics, the World Athletics Heritage plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, performances, cities, venues, landmarks and culture around the world.

Athletes present included former London Marathon champion Mary Keitany, world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, former multiple 3,000m steeplechase world and Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, former World Cross Country champion Irene Cheptai among other top athletes.

Elsewhere in Eldoret, athletes below 20 years were urged to practice clean sport and focus in building a good name during a seminar organized by AK and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

AIU reiterated that it is fair and transparent in a bid to curb cheating in sports which has been on the rise.

Aditya Kumar, head of education at the AIU, was speaking via zoom addressing young athletes drawn from Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet Counties.

Africa Under-20 1,500m bronze medalist Peter Kibui, who was in attendance said he is happy to get more knowledge on banned substances which might ruin his career.

"It has been a good interaction and I was able to get knowledge on how to avoid bad company and focus on my career. I'm now getting ready for next year where I want to be in the Kenyan team that will be participating in the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi," said Kibui.

The seminar heads to Kericho County on Friday where 50 athletes from Nyanza, Nakuru and Narok regions will converge.

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