China brings athletics challenge to Kenya's door step in IAAF U18 Championships

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-18 08:42:13|Editor: Mengjie
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By John Kwoba

NAIROBI, June 17 (Xinhua) -- China has emerged the biggest threat to host Kenya's chances of clinching the overall title at the IAAF World Under-18 Championships, which will be held in Nairobi from July 12-16.

Following the withdrawal of Japan, defending champions USA, Britain, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada, it will be a close battle between Ethiopia, China and Poland to wrest the overall title from Kenya in the event, which marks its final stop before it is scrapped.

China has already named a 51-strong team, aiming to add to their strong tradition at this competition. Of the countries that will be represented in Nairobi in July, only hosts Kenya has earned more medals than China in the history of the World U18 Championships.

Some of their best hopes for medals in the Kenyan capital next month include long jumper Gong Luying, javelin thrower Liu Zhekai, and race walkers Zhang Yao and Zhang Xiaole.

With the host facing challenges of teams pulling out citing security concerns, Cabinet Secretary in charge of sport Hassan Wario said that they have done everything to secure the event and promised a safe championship.

"We have enough security men to take care of the championships. We also have the support of the local police and military. This will pass out to be the most safe championships. We can not keep on hiding from the terrorist and the best way to show our solidarity is by competing in this event," said Wario.

Kenya has named a big team of 64 athletes for the championship, its largest ever squad for the World U18 Championships. Along with several medal hopes in the endurance events, there is a near full complement of field event athletes.

Kenya topped the medals table in 1999 and 2009 and will be aiming to do so once again as the country hosts its first global track and field event.

The IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 will be the final edition of the event as IAAF's focus will shift towards driving regional and continental competitions.