The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has pledged more support to African countries to nurture young athletes.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe on Saturday said that the world athletics governing body is determined to improve the sport in Africa.
“When I assumed the office, I wanted to make sure that Africa gets a share of organising big events and we had to start with Rabat in Morocco with the Diamond League last year. I want this to happen more on other events too,” said Coe, who was speaking during a media briefing in Kampala ahead Sunday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championship at Kololo Grounds.
Uganda’s Minister for Sports Charles Bakabulindi said there will be tight security during the event.
“The government of the Uganda is delighted to have this big event here and we are looking forward to it. Everyone is very much welcome, the security is guaranteed and if though you wish to extend your stay for a few more days you are free to do so and enjoy being in Kampala,” said Bakabulindi.
An expected 557 athletes from 60 teams are set to compete at Kololo grounds in Kampala on Sunday, surpassing the figures from the past six editions.
Thirteen nations are set to compete in the mixed relay, which is making its debut in the Championships.
Each team comprises of two men and two women who will each run a two-kilometre circuit.
Kenya’s three-time World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop said that he is optimistic that the team will do well during the event.
“We will give our best since our competitors are also eyeing glory. I’m pleased to be coming back to cross country for a new event,” said Kiprop.
Olympics 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich said that running cross country helps her in achieving endurance.
“I have been participating in cross country races and they do help a lot in endurance and when it comes to the track events, I just run easily and perform well,” said Chepng’etich.
Uganda’s former world and Olympics marathon champion, Stephen Kiprotich, remained optimistic that the locals will win more medals on Sunday.
“We are ready for the event and will be looking forward to a good race. I know it’s tough but given a chance we will show the world what we have,” said Kiprotich, who has been training in Kaptagat in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Meanwhile, legendary Kenyan athlete and peace ambassador Tegla Lorupe and World Cross Country great Paul Tergat launched a sports programme for children living with disabilities at Kisaasi Primary School in Kisaasi, Kampala on Saturday.