Athletics Canada announced today that Canada will not field a team at the 2017 IAAF World U18 Athletics Championships to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, July 2017. This follows suit with similar news from other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The recommendation to not field a team in Kenya was made by Athletics Canada’s National Team Committee, citing safety and other factors including many nations having already pulled out of the event. Athletics Canada’s focus in the 18 and under age group this season will be the Commonwealth Youth Games, July 19-23, in the Bahamas.
Athletics Canada is already working with Commonwealth Games Canada to maximize the quota allocation for the Commonwealth Youth Games.
In August 2016, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had announced that the 2017 edition of the U18 Championships would be the last. Sebastian Coe, IAAF President, commented on the decision, “We decided it’s not the best pathway for those athletes at that stage of their career.” Coe had also stated, “Research has proved that some 90 per cent of the medallists at these Under-18 championships never make it to the senior team.”
Aside from poor transition through the athlete pathway, it is also very expensive to organise and send teams to this age-group championship, “We saw that most teams did not travel to the last championships in Cali because it was too expensive,” added Coe.
The IAAF, with full support from Canada, have instead decided to support area competitions for this age group. Athletics Canada is working on ensuring an international competitive opportunity every season for the U18 category.
The IAAF World U18 Championship were first held in 1999. Canada hosted the event in 2003 (Sherbrooke, Quebec).