You know how a friend tells you, you should go to this place or event. It is the coolest thing ever and you really just must go. Rhodes Simotwo was that friend this time. Being an athletics enthusiast, it crossed my mind that this was something he really cared about. After a lot of convincing, I finally decided to go along and see what the fuss was all about. It was the World Athletics National Championship Qualifications for those who would be representing Kenya during the Beijing World Athletic Championships.
So I made my way to No. 44’s at Tusky’s Chap Chap, and soon I was off to Kasarani Safaricom Stadium. This is where terrible admissions are made. I had never been there before. So up the flyover and lonely quiet walk to Kasarani, past the mayai and smokie vendors, past the biscuits salespeople. Lazy morning.
A bit clueless, I followed the people half running half walking towards the stadium. It began to look familiar, checkpoints and a quick conversation with a stranger led me to know a representative of KDF Media. He was a reporter, part of their PR team. The rest of the walk was a lot of questions and knowing that they had quite a few participants in the races ahead.
Several checkpoints later, I was at the massive Kasarani Safaricom Stadium, and soon, I was walking through the gates onto the media arena on the track. It was a sea of cameras and reporters. The races had already began.
Setup made me make new fast friends. Thing is, when you have no idea who the kings of the sports are, you are left in a daze.
Being in the media tent was a craze really. It was always a calm before any race, then soon as the gun was fired, photographers would dash across the running track to capture the perfect moments. What caught my attention was the happenings after the races. The winner would be swarmed by reporters for interviews.
Here the big media houses got their stories. I met people who knew all their records, broken, unbroken, how long they had been running. Thankfully, many were only too willing to explain the goings-on. With this pattern, I began to note who’s who. Some of the people I met were Bett, who recently won the 400M men’s race (Congratulations!) & Mike Mokamba & Carvin Nkanata races were real faces of determination.
In case you didn’t know, Carvin Nkanata was racing against Bolt at the Golden Spike Event in Ostrava for the 200M. One of our very own finest!
At this point, I’ll say you have to meet Rhodes he
knows their stories even better. You could also check the IAAF website for some of the athletes who’ve competed in IAAF World Athletics Series competition since 1999.The sun was getting hotter and so were the races. The stadium was literally half empty, yet the fans who’d come openly expressed their support. Here, right in this stadium, I knew we were one supporting our athletes.
Quite honestly, I really didn’t know all our athletes. However the day at the stadium made me wish I had known them earlier, not just on the last day as we watch them make us proud. They are all powerful stories telling of their ambition, determination and drive on the global race tracks. All of a sudden I was
wondering where I had been all my life. I should never have to miss the experience again!
Rhodes joined me much later, and when we did he insisted we needed to meet his friends. Off we were to the warm up track. Not before we met Carvin Nkanata in person, who agreed to take a picture with us.
Not forgetting Bedan Karoki from Nyahururu, a 10,000M star & YouTube Man, Julius Yego! A bit tense with his qualification right before him, he graciously let us take photos with him. His shirt spelt out his current achievement, 91M 39 which has been now been cracked at the World Championships. (Did you see how he threw it with every vein in his body to break his record! The cry as he landed on the floor, only to witness that he had done it!) We released him and watched the humble magnanimous
figure walk away. What a moment!
Being a fully-fledged tour, we made it to the track. WOW! It felt like being an ant among the giants. If the track could speak, you can guess what it would say. The field was donned with them, all training for their races. Finally here I was taking photos with the greats, David Rudisha, Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi, Mercy Cherono and many upcoming athletes.
At this point, I’ll admit how humbling it was to meet the soft spoken giants. Mostly quiet, almost withdrawn, they ran past us, focusing on the qualifications. This is where the dreams were about to come to life, yet again for many of them after another 2 years of training. Now when I am jumping up and down in front of the TV cheering our heroes on, I feel like I know them,
just like the fans at the stadium. Now, I count myself an extra supporter.
Thank you our athletes for representing us at the World Championships and making us oh so proud.
May He bless the work of your hands, and legs!
You now have a very enthusiastic fan. Kenyans, care to join me?