4th December 2020
To all you young athletes who dreamed of stepping on to the podium at Moi International Stadium, Kasarani this year, it is unfortunately the dream that failed to come true. COVID-19 has meant that a gap in the International Schools Athletics Championship for 2020 has happened. This first time in over twenty years this has happened and is a sad thing to think about both personally and I know it is in the minds of all the schools and the brilliant student athletes who would have competed, some perhaps for the last time before leaving schools to go on to Higher Education.
The International Schools Athletics Championships started in 2001, taking place in term 3 of the academic year. That being a time when external international examinations started later in the term and allowed time for this final school athletic championship to take place. As time went on it moved to term 2 and developed into the fantastic event it is, until this year. The role I had all those years ago has passed on through many other Teachers and Staff at all the International Schools participating. Winners of the different age groups have been seen in various schools, individual stars have been seen in all events. Small schools have seen individuals rise to the top in events. I remember vividly Mr Williams saying “quiet please…ssshhhhhh”, to draw everyones attention to a high jumper who was to break the Championship record by succeeding in a 2metre jump. The silence was stunning and the applause from all when that athlete succeeded was awe-inspiring to all. Records then began to tumble all over the stadium. The standards have risen in all events and the challenge to all athletes and teachers has become an far reaching aim that all have aspired to improving.
To you Athletes in the Braeburn Schools, and anyone else reading this, it is a sad reflection that the virus has curtailed nearly all events that you participate in but this one at Kasarani, I believe to be the most significant one in the sporting calendar and one that has often seen as a huge positive in your personal statements for applications to Universities and Colleges worldwide. Parents and spectators watching the athletic events in wonder at your individual skills and positive competitive nature. Use that still in your lives and set yourself targets in any new situation you find yourself in. That may include joining an Athletic club in the future or maintaining your personal fitness by running. That is up to you but always look for opportunities in life built on your experiences. For athletes who have missed out this year, it will be back. The Kasarani Championship will return and you will be able to show yourselves to be the young developing stars in future events
My dream lives on, that the pandemic we all find ourselves in today will eventually go, we will move into a better world and the International Schools here in Kenya will challenge each other again at Kasarani Stadium. I long for that day and I know from talking to students they do also. Look after yourselves and others and all stay safe.
P M Barnard. (Elite Track and Field Athletics Coordinator)