By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, July 4 (Xinhua) -- China is taking on Kenya head-on in the battle for the overall title at the last show of the IAAF World U-18 Championships, which starts in Nairobi next week.
The Asian giants have sent a team of 51 athletes to Kenya which will feild 61 athletes.
A total of 131 countries and regions are expected to attend the championships though USA, Japan, Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand have pulled out.
Only Kenya and the United States have won the overall titles since the event made its debut in 1999 in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Beijing will be aiming to add to its strong tradition in the competition. Of the countries that will be represented in Nairobi later this year, only hosts Kenya have earned more medals than China in the history of the World Under-18 Championship.
Some of the athletes carrying China's best hopes for medals at the youth competition, include long jumper Gong Luying, javelin thrower Liu Zhekai, and race walkers Zhang Yao and Zhang Xiaole.
On Tuesday, Team Poland with 21 athletes arrived in Nairobi to acclimatize to Nairobi's cold weather before the July 12-16 event at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, which was recently upgraded by Chinese contractors.
Poland will be followed by Argentina, Chile and Bahamas, which has a contingent of 16. Chile has sent only three athletes for the championships.
Oman will be represented by one athlete - Asian U-18 2,000m steeplechase bronze medallist Mohammed Hamad Al-Sulemani - who has been training in the country for almost three weeks now.
Kenya has battled claims of the event facing terror attack, but Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said on Friday that the country has adequate security for the championship and does not expect any incidences.
History will be in the making for the athletes and host country as this is the last championship before International Association of Athletics Federation discontinues it to focus on World Junior Championships, which is eligible for athletes over 20 years.
The U-18 championships will now remain to be contested on continental basis from next year. Enditem