Kip Keino Classic leaves lasting memories for athletic fans

Tuesday May 16 2023
athletic fans

Kenyan athletic fan base in jubilant celebrations during the fourth edition of the Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi on May 13, 2023. PHOTO | YASUYOSHI CHIBA | AFP


Organisers of the Absa Kip Keino Classic are satisfied with the standards of the event that has become dear to the hearts of Kenyan athletics fans.

The fourth edition of the meet attracted an impressive 251 participants — both local and international — who electrified Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on Saturday.

Sprints king Ferdinand Omanyala was the showstopper. He blasted his way to victory in the 100 metres race in a world leading time of 9.84 seconds to rapturous cheering from jubilant fans.

Kenya’s President William Ruto, Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba and opposition leader Raila Odinga were among the dignitaries at Kasarani.

Athletics legends travelled from far and wide to attend the event. The 1968 Olympic Games Black Power salute hero John Carlos and the 1992 Barcelona Olympic 400m hurdles champion Kevin Young graced the meet.

Between 35,000 and 40,000 fans thronged Kasarani to watch the stars in action.


The local organising committee headed by Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei will now be reviewing the hits and misses.

“Of course, we had hits and misses that are synonymous with such major events but generally, the meet was a success. We want to thank all those who were involved,” said Tuwei.

The athletics chief believes that the success of this year’s event will boost Kenya’s push to host a Diamond League round.

Read: Kenya bids to host Diamond League meet

Tuwei thanks sponsors

Tuwei thanked title sponsors Absa Kenya Bank, the government and leading telecommunication company Safaricom for their support. He also lauded Kenyans for turning out in their numbers to support the athletes.

Tuwei commended the Nation Media Group for its astute and quality coverage of the live Continental Tour event.

 “The fans were so cheerful and gave athletes the drive and encouragement to do well,” said Tuwei, noting that at one stage some events had to be delayed for the cheering to subside.

“The huge turnout of 115 foreign athletes made the meet a major success. This is our biggest turnout and can’t take that for granted.”

Tuwei said that the biggest setback was the withdrawal of multi-Olympic and world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who pulled out owing to an injury on the eve of the meet.

Read: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce out of Kip Keino Classic

“We wish her a quick recovery. I believe that she will return next year because she has a big fan base in the country,” said Tuwei.

He regretted that at some point the women’s 400m race was delayed because of starting gun gremlins. “Fans who attend such major events should observe stadium etiquette, as far as the starting of the races are concerned,” he said.

“In future, fans should know that it’s important to remain calm for the start of the races, especially sprints. They must avoid anything that may create discomfort to athletes,” said Tuwei, who also cautioned spectators from storming the field after events are over.

“They must at all costs not storm the field so as to allow the athletes to exit after the presentation. We must avoid anything that may cause concern.”

On planning, he said that negotiating with elite athletes — both local and foreign — starts early, and huge amounts of money is involved in terms of appearance fee, traveling and accommodation expenses.

“These are top level athletes who don’t just come. It involves a lot and here are logistics, accommodation, transportation, medical, security and technical expenses to be met.

“There is so much that goes into planning. We must account for all this. It is not an easy affair and it’s expensive too,” he said.