First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Tuesday evening officially opened the 2021 World Athletics Under 20 (U20) championship at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi County.
Speaking during the colourful ceremony whose highlight was eight children from around the world lighting the “ flame of youth” torch, the First Lady expressed hope that this year’s U20 championship will lay the foundation for more young athletes to grow their talents and achieve their sporting aspirations.
“Your dedicated training, practice and participation in these championships present you with an opportunity to pursue your dreams, ” the First Lady told the athletes from the 110 participating countries.
She added: “As patron of this championship, I am impressed by the diligence and determination of the young men and women who are here in Nairobi to participate in this event that has drawn sporting talent from over 100 countries.”At the same time, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said the games are not only about competition but also a platform for the youth to interact and make new friends as well as share special moments that will help them defeat global challenges such as racism.
She extended her appreciation to the World Athletics for hosting the U20 championship in Kenya, saying it is an honour to be selected as the first African country to hold the major event.
“This is also a significant achievement for our continent because of the opportunity it affords different nations to position themselves as hosts of major world championships such as the one we are kicking off today,” the First Lady said.
While wishing the participants success, the First Lady advised participants to protect themselves from Covid-19 by adhering to set protocols.
She encouraged visiting teams and their officials to sample and enjoy Kenya’s warm hospitality and rich heritage while in the country.
In his address, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe thanked the Government of Kenya and the local organizing committee for enabling the global athletics body to deliver the second largest athletics track and field gathering this year after the Tokyo Olympics.
“The presence of the World Athletics in Nairobi for the U20 Championship is a huge tribute to the resilience and fortitude that has been displayed by Kenya in allowing us to deliver the championship to the world,” Mr Coe said.
In a speech read on her behalf by Sports PS Joe Okudo, Cabinet Secretary Amb Amina Mohamed said the hosting of the World Athletics U20 championship is proof that the Government’s growing investment in sports is paying off.
Other speakers included Nairobi Acting Governor Anne Kananu and World Athletics Local Organizing Committee Chairman Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Jackson Tuwei.