IAAF Ambassador Wilson Kipketer was in Bydgoszcz last weekend to promote next Sunday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships (28 March).
Kipketer’s positive personality lit up the dull sky above Bydgoszcz. Following on from a rainy day on Saturday (20), the Danish World 800m record holder led a nearly 200 strong group on a promotional run in beautiful weather on Sunday morning. It was as if Kipketer’s ever smiling face had temporarily even charmed Mother-Nature into believing it was spring. But without his influence outdoors it was quickly back to normal, as virtually as soon as the run finished and Kipketer left the course to attend a press conference, the heavens opened up again with more rain!
But thankfully the past week has been generally much warmer in Bydgoszcz, sunny at times and what is also important, dry, so only a week after the Polish national championships took place on a snowy, muddy course, now the surface is getting better and better.
Kipketer’s schedule in Bydgoszcz was exceptionally tight and he used every opportunity to let his infectious smile promote the World Cross Country Championships, sharing his experiences and of course signing lots of autographs and photos.
Beginning on Saturday morning with a short tour of the course tour, and then after making a few TV interviews, Kipketer visited City Hall. A very positive meeting with the Mayor Konstanty Dombrowicz finished with the proposal that Kipketer help the city as an advisor to build a sports programme for the young generation.
Then in between two visits to the biggest shopping center in the city, the Focus Mall, to meet hoards of youngsters and sign autographs, Kipketer was taken to a volleyball match.
The audience at what was the last match of the season for Bydgoszcz’s team Delecta was 2500 spectators, and they gave a real enthusiastic and noisy welcome to the 800m star who was accompanied by the WXC 2010 mascot, ‘Crossby’.
In the late afternoon there was another meeting with the public at “Wegliszek” Café down town with a video presentation about Kipketer’s career.
On Sunday morning, in the promotional run Kipketer was accompanied by Andreas Jonsson, who is one of the best speedway riders in the world representing the Bydgoszcz team 'Polonia'.
“My team is on stand-by to show Wilson how to ride a speedway motorbike (without brakes and gears; the sport of Speedway is very popular in both Denmark and Poland). The next time he visits Bydgoszcz he should just call us,” said Jonsson, who was a little nervous ahead of the run.
“Maybe one lap (of the course) will be enough,” Kipketer reassured the reluctant runner.
“I enjoy staying in Bydgoszcz a lot," said Kipketer. "This is the fourth time and each time I can feel and see that the city is really open not only for athletics but for sport in general. I hope to come back here.”
“Today I invite the people of Bydgoszcz to support the best cross country runners on next Sunday. I wish you a successful championship,” concluded the IAAF Ambassador.
Maciej Lopatto (LOC) for the IAAF