By Kimathi Kamau
NAIROBI, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Kenya said Tuesday it has finalized preparations for this year's World Under 18 championships that kick off in Nairobi on July 12.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who is the current patron of W-U18, Kenya Chapter, expressed satisfaction with the preparations of the global event at Kasarani and Kenyatta University where all the athletes from 131 countries are will be accommodated in a special Games Village.
"I am truly impressed with the work done here. This place will make Kenya proud," said the First lady after an extensive inspection of accommodation, dining, kitchen and recreational facilities at the Games Village.
The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Under 18 (W-U18) championships take place between July 12-16. President Kenyatta is expected to open the games.
At KU the First Lady witnessed the hand-over of the Games Village from the University to officials of the IAAF W-U18 Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
She later made a second site visit at the Kasarani stadium where infrastructural works including the laying of new tartan tracks are 98 per cent complete according to Sports, Culture and Arts Cabinet Secretary Dr Hassan Wario who accompanied the First Lady at both sites.
"I am satisfied that actualization of the logistical and operational plans for the championships are well on course," said the First Lady with optimism that the country will stage a world class event that reflects the very best of Kenya.
According to the IAAF W-U18 officials, a total of 1300 athletes will be fighting for the 37 competitions on offer where a strong 78-member Team Kenya will be out to defend its past record as the kings of long distance races
Sporting enthusiasts are optimistic that no country can beat Kenya (in Athletics) at home during this year's championships.
This year's championships mark the 10th edition of the W-U18 competitions and also the last event of the iconic global event. Henceforth, all former W-U18 Athletes will now fall under the W-U20 category.
Of the 215 members that constitute the IAAF (federation), six countries, among them the USA, Britain, Japan and Canada are skipping the Nairobi event.
Margaret exuded confidence that Kenya was ready to receive the various teams and hold a successful event.
She said she had witnessed the results of a seamless operation and planning for the event through multi-agency initiatives and teamwork.
"This will be second biggest sporting event that Kenya is hosting since the 1987 All Africa Games," said Margaret, adding that the championships provide an opportunity to appreciate the diverse talents among the youth.
"For me, the upcoming IAAF World Under 18 Championships offer a fantastic opportunity for us to recognize the diverse talents and abilities of youth across the world. Every competing athlete will serve as an inspiration to young people globally," she said.
She expressed her pride with the Kenyan Athletes adding they have had the best mentorship under past champions in the names of such heroes as Catherine Ndereba, Pamela Jelimo, Noah Ngeny, John Ngugi and Julius Kariuki among others.
"As Patron, I see the championships as an opportunity for Kenyans to celebrate, applaud and encourage our youth to pursue sports as a career," said the First Lady
She said all Kenyans were highly optimistic and supportive of Team Kenya which they expect to emerge winners.
"We are all rooting for you and optimistic that Kenya will emerge as the international champion this year," Margaret said.
She told the Organizing committee to ensure they deliver a world class championship that will reflect the very best of the country.
Besides the sporting fraternity drawn globally, thousands of other visitors have also started arriving in the country to have a first-hand experience of Kenya, a country recognized internationally as a powerhouse of long distance runners.