Kenya: Young Stars Stirring Fresh Interest in Sporting Activities

22 September 2021

Kenya witnessed Ferdinard Omanyala, the newest athletics 100 metres sensation of the season, being unveiled last Saturday during the second Kip Keino Classic World Athletics Continental Tour.

The event, which concluded a busy athletics season, was a resounding success. This brought to mind a proposal by the UN-Habitat in 2013 to name Nairobi the sports capital city of the world, suitable to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2028.

Though far-fetched, this dream can be achieved in the future. However, the biggest and most important goal is for Nairobi to host the 2025 World Athletics Championships - the third biggest sporting festival after the Olympic Games and Fifa World Cup.

By all standards, organisers of the Kip Keino Classic led by director Barnaba Korir produced a sleek event which attracted top international stars such as the 2004 Athens Olympics Games 100m champion Justin Gatlin of the United States who finished third behind Omanyala and Trayvon Bromell.

Omanyala is now the eighth fastest man in history, having broken the African record. He almost beat Bromell in what was one of the biggest sporting news in the world of that day.

This came a month after Nairobi hosted the World Athletics Under-20 Championships where records fell and new names emerged like Emmanuel Wanyonyi who is now considered as the next David Rudisha in the 800m.

Omanyala's feat is expected to entice Kenyans to start returning to athletics meetings - a sport that has lost its allure of the 1970s and 80s.

Omanyala will soon start attracting big sponsors, and he will also inspire young people into stadiums.

His rise to stardom comes only days before the FIA Rally Star young drivers McRae Kimathi, Jeremy Wahome and Hamza Anwar head to Finland to train under some of the best rally instructors in the world.

Like athletics, rallying has for a long time been left to a small clique of drivers and die-hard fans.

However, this changed dramatically last June when the Safari Rally returned to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after 19 years.

The event got rave reviews in motorsports circles, and technical officials must be credited for putting in a lot of work and hours to get the show on the road.

Wahome, Kimathi and Hamza are building a fan base among the youth who will be future spectators, competitors and officials.

Last weekend, the trio competed in the KCB Ramisi Rally which was organised by Mombasa Motor Club.

Although they did not finish the race, they said that they picked valuable lessons. Wahome and his navigator Victor Okundi crashed out, but they were unhurt.

The three drivers , just like Omanyala, are fast becoming a darling of the girls, and that wow effect is good for the growth of sports.

WRC Safari Rally officials have begun laying ground for next year's competition. They want the Safari to match other well-organised WRC events such as Finland Rally and Monte Carlo.

Safari managers have been attending other WRC events, the latest being the Acropolis Rally in Greece to learn the best practices.

For the Kip Keino Classic to thrive, Athletics Kenya should form a working group of professionals similar to that of the Safari Rally and the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF).

Nairobi County officials must realise that they have a crucial role to play. They city managers need to know the importance of sports in the growth of the county's economy.

Cities round the world fight hard fto be given the rights to host international event. Olympic Games, for instance, are named after the host city, and with it comes a lot of benefits.

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