World Athletics President Sebastian Coe at Kasarani, yesterday. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

World Athletics (WA) president Sebastian Coe is optimistic that Nairobi will host a successful event as the delayed World Under-20 Championships finally begin this morning.

No fans will be allowed in the 60,000-seater Moi Sports Centre Kasarani Stadium.

A squeezed five-day championship, which was initially set to begin yesterday, will now run from today to Sunday, -with athletes from more than 100 countries expected to take part.

Covid-19 has robbed the local fans a repeat of the 2017 experience where Kasarani witnessed a record attendance at the World Under 18 Championship.

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But despite the teething health challenges that also forced the organisers to push back the event by one day, Coe, remained upbeat that this event will leave a lasting memory for those who will be watching from home.

“Sadly, on this occasion, and for obvious reasons, we are not going to have the noisy, passion and informed fans that Kenya athletics have always produced,” said Coe, a British, who set set nine outdoor and three indoor world records in middle-distance track events.

Among his achievements on the track include three world records set in a span of 41 days, in 1979.

“It will still be an outstanding championship, nonetheless,” said the former world 800m record holder, whose 1981 record remained unbroken until 1997.

“Athletics in Kenya is a religion and my career was defined by so many of the great Kenyan athletes.”

Coe, a four-time Olympiad also said David Rudisha, the reigning World 800m record holder is the greatest athletes of all time in the distance.

“David Rudisha is the greatest runner of 800 metres. It pains me to say this. Actually, it gives me great pleasure to say this,” the British said yesterday during a press conference at Kasarani.

 

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