There is need for the regional countries and Africa to come up with its own international meetings that will cater for the need of athletes, Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya Meles Alem Tikea has said.
Alem said that Africa has the capability and resources to host major events that can be an envy to the rest of the world and challenged Athletics Kenya, Athletics Ethiopia and the Confederation of Africa Athletics to come out of their comfort zone.
These sentiments received a strong backing from Uasin Gishu County Governor Jackson Mandago and his Nandi counterpart Stephen Arap Sang, who called on Kenya and Ethiopia to engage in exchange programs for athletes.
Alem, Mandago and Sang were speaking during the official opening of the Athletics Kenya Athletes’ Conference at Sirikwa Hotel on Friday. The four-day conference ends on Saturday.
The sentiments come after World Athletics and Diamond League scrapped several races including 10,000m, 5,000m, 3,000m steeplechase and 200m from real time coverage during the 2020 season.
Alem, who represented EA president Deratu Tule and legendary athlete Haile Gebrselassie, described Kenya and Ethiopia as the beauty of international athletics. “I wonder how the world would contemplate not to have marathon, 10,000m, 5,000m and steeplechase,” said Alem. “Besides doping, scrapping of these events is the biggest threat to Kenya and Ethiopia’s heritage in athletics.”
Alem said he is happy that Kenya, Ethiopia and other African countries have strongly protested to World Athletics saying the changes will kill athletics.
Alem said regional athletes don’t see run for entertainment, they see athletics as a culture and a language of communication. “We now have a common challenge with what will put our heritage and culture at risk,” said Alem. “The fight against doping should not just focus on athletes but also the support system that should face the full force of the law.”
Alem said he would like to see athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia and other regional and African counties participate in races organised within. “Our youth are crazy about running hence they should start here before venturing out. That’s is why I want to see Kenya athletes running in Ethiopia and Uganda and vice versa,” said Alem.
Mandago said Africa countries should take Diamond League’s move as a blessing by taking the initiative to host a meeting featuring events that have been left out.
“Africa has the resources and capacity to stage lucrative athletics meetings comprising events that have been left out. It will be a good opportunity to market Africa. We must own the event and we shall see the rest of the world flocking to Africa,” said Mandago.
Sang said having major athletics events in Africa to rival the Diamond League will create an opportunity for Africa countries to work together.
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