By Tata Mbunwe
Sports Minister Narcise Mouele Kombi has officially launched the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope.
This was during an occasion at Buea Molyko Omnisport Stadium in on Friday afternoon.
Holding under the theme: “Peace, an ingredient of nation building”, the race features some 454 athletes participating from nine countries, including host Cameroon.
As the race kicks off on Saturday, February 19, ambiance has been building in Buea for the past weeks. Friday’s launching ceremony was attended by hundreds of people, mostly students, who were part of a parade to launch the event.
The competing athletes have also been at the stadium to reconfirm their participation and get medical tests.
At least 29 foreign athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Morocco, Congo, Central Africa Republic, Chad and France, are taking part in the race and up to 19 of these foreigners are from Kenya.
Last year’s champions Mohammadou and Kitan Mildred in the senior men and senior women’s categories respectively are also in the race.
Twenty four-year-old Mohammadou will face steep opposition this time from rising athletes like Lyonga Essombe Samuel, son of Mountain Queen and five-time champion, ah Etonge Liengu.
Essombe, a native of Fako, where the race is taking place, came third in the senior men category at the 2015 edition and emerged winner of this year’s test race held on January 14, 2022.
At least eight former champions in both the men and women categories will be participating in the race, among them Simplice Ndungeh, Kitan Mildred Ntumeku, Ngwaya Yvonne, among others.
Meanwhile, sports officials have raised concerns about athletes reducing their ages in order to participate in some categories of the race.
The President of Cameroon Athletics Federation, FECATHLETICS, Emmanuel Motomby Mbome, warned against athletes falsifying their ages to run in the junior category.
“I am going to be firm on athletes who are going to run in the junior category. People should not reduce their ages because they want to be juniors. Those athletes who usually make new birth certificates and documents to compete in the junior category as junior athletes will not succeed this time,” he said in a release.
However, officials say all is set and done for the race to kickoff this Saturday, February 19. Andrew Eteki Njoh, President of the South West Regional League of Athletics says all is set for ahead of Saturday’s race.