Preparations for this year’s Kip Keino Classic tournament are in top gear as Kenya is set to host another set of high calibre international races at the Kasarani Stadium on Saturday, May 7th.
The third edition of the one-day meet, now part of the World Continental Tour Gold which is the second-highest competition circuit after the Wanda Diamond League, is billed to be a bigger showcase than the previous editions as fans will be allowed to follow the action on the sidelines for the first time since the inception of the competition in 2020.
Speaking during the media launch at Safari Park Hotel, Ministry of Sports and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Amb. Dr Amina Mohamed urged Kenyans and other athletics fans to take advantage of the fact that spectators will be allowed to attend the event this year, unlike last year.
“I invite us all to come and cheer on the athletes, especially our fellow Kenyans who could do with some momentum as they prepare for various international assignments this year. Kip Keino Classic is indeed evidence of Kenya’s ever-increasing reputation as a sporting destination,” Amina said.
She also commended the private sector for playing an important role in growing the profile of sports events in the country through partnerships and sponsorships.
Speaking at the same event, Athletics Kenya President Lt. General retired Jackson Tuwei described the Continental Tour event as a monument of the man it is named after – athletics legend, Dr Kipchoge Keino.
“We decided to name it Kip Keino Classic to salute one of our greatest if not the world’s greatest heroes who has brought so much honour and pride to our country. As far as Kenya’s reputation in athletics goes, ‘Mzee Kip Keino’ is one of our founding fathers and it is only right to treat him as such,” he said.
Athletics Kenya also announced it has once again partnered with main sponsor Absa Bank Kenya PLC for the second year running under the gold category for the prestigious event which has brought together some of the world’s top track and field stars.
Absa is investing approximately KES 23 million in the partnership, KES 3 million more than last year, which will go towards making the event an even better success.
Absa Kenya’s Managing Director Jeremy Awori said the Bank has a great interest in athletics, due to the proud history it holds at the heart of Kenya’s sports scene and the important role it plays in the positive development of our society.
“We are privileged to be associated with the Kip Keino Classic Continental Gold Tour event for the second year running. Last year was clear evidence that Kenyan has the capacity to host world-class athletics events. As a brand, we have learnt great lessons on how we can come into the tournament and support efforts to make it bigger, better and more exciting.”“Through our partnership with Athletics Kenya and the Ministry of Sports, we believe we can create opportunities and reap the socio-economic dividends that come from sports tourism and hosting such events.” Mr Awori said.
As was the case last year, Awori also announced KES 50,000 prize for every Kenyan athlete who excels in their categories during the event.
“From the face of it, we are confident that our athletes are well prepared and this year’s Classic is another chance for them to show the world their resilient and winning spirit. This is a token of appreciation for their hard work,” he added.
The Nairobi leg is expected to attract many more international athletes than the previous two as the world continues to return to normalcy after a period of disruption by the coronavirus pandemic.
With a stadium capacity of 60,000 people, this could be the biggest athletics event since 2019.