Over 1,300 athletes and 700 officials from 54 nations are expected to travel to Nairobi for the 17th Senior African Athletics Championship, which will be staged at Nyayo National Stadium from July 28 to August 1.
Kenya, as host might be the only country to enter at least three athletes in each of the 56 events that will be competed in during the five day championship.
Athletics Kenya secretary general David Okeyo, who is also the event's
organising committee's Chief Executive Officer, confirmed Kenya has made a provisional entry of 168 athletes with Nigeria quest to strengthen their domination of the championship approved by a high entry of 154.
Benin, who will host the next edition of these championships in 2012, have forwarded a list of 50, Sudan has 80 while Ethiopia are bringing in 86.
"These are just preliminary entry list. These countries have to get their athletes to qualify for them to get the confirmation and I believe the numbers will not change. More countries are also expected to bring in their
names. This is done in all international competition to help in organisation," said Okeyo.
Top athletes like Kenya's 800m runners Pamela Jelimo, Alfred Kirwa Yego and Janeth Jepkosgei, Ezekiel Kemboi, Vivian Cheruiyot, Linet Masai have confirmed they will participate in the event, which will also be used to honour Kenya's greatest athletes.
From the continent, Sudan's sensational 800m prodigy Abubakar Kaki, reigning African 100m champion and record holder at 9.85 seconds, Olusoji Fasuba of Nigeria are among the top athletes expected to compete in the championship among others.
The event will also be used to pick Africa's team to the World Cup in Athletics set for Split, Croatia in September.
"By virtue of us using this event to pick the continent's best to run in Croatia, I can assure you we will have a very strong field of elite runners in Nairobi, "said Okeyo.
The LOC has since put May 14 as the final date for the preliminary entry confirmation from all the affiliate countries.
The Senior Africa Athletics Championship is the premier event for the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) and is expected to cost Sh400 million in organising and hosting it.
Okeyo said that though Kenya is allowed to field athletes in all events without going through the qualification rounds they will however, subject their athletes to Trials with all performances achieved during the period starting January 1 to July 13 coming into consideration.
"All the performances must be achieved during an official competition organised in conformity with IAAF Rules," said Okeyo.
Without the Olympics and the World Championship, the Senior Africa Athletics Championship, remains the main competition on the continent's calendar and will come in handy for the Anglophone countries as a build up to the Commonwealth Games set for Delhi India in October.
Okeyo also confirmed that out of the 56 events that will be on card, there will be no room for the marathon unlike is the case with the Olympics or the World Championship.
The event also requires all athletes to secure direct qualification from their national competitions or internationally sanctioned events.
"There will be no one getting a bye. Everyone has to qualify and even those who ran in Addis Ababa two years ago, they have no short cut," said Okeyo.