Rwanda’s full marathon runner Ambroise Uwiragiye is hoping to impress at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games that will run from August 5-21 in Brazil as he concludes his three-month training in the Netherlands.
The Rotterdam-based athlete qualified to compete at the Rio Games after impressing in the NN Marathon in Rotterdam on April 10, finishing 24th with a time of 2:18:26. He is expected to touch base in Rio, on August 16.
Since booking his ticket to Rio, Uwiragiye, under the close guidance of his Dutch trainer Guido Hartensveld, has been undergoing intensive training seeking to improve his time and fitness ahead of making his historic debut at the world’s biggest sporting event.
The 36-year-old was initially supposed to link up with his compatriots Claudette Mukasakindi and Jean Baptiste Simukeka for high altitude training in Iten, Kenya, but opted to stay in Holland to work with his personal trainer.
Both Mukasakindi and Simukeka returned to Kigali on Monday, although, unfortunately, the latter won’t be on the plane to Rio after he was disqualified because he earned his qualification during an event that wasn’t recognized by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Speaking to Times Sport in a phone interview, Uwiragiye said, “I feel ready for the Olympics, I have had excellent preparations, I have competed in different track and field competitions in Belgium after qualifying and despite not training with my colleagues in Kenya, I have benefited a lot from here.”
The athlete, who will be making his Olympic debut, had planned to hold his final preparations in Switzerland which has a high altitude landscape.
However, the plan was abandoned over financial constraints and his coach suggested he should remain in the Netherlands which offered weather conditions similar to that in Rio de Janeiro.
“I am now left with two crucial sessions this week and mid next week. I believe these will give me a real picture of what I can do in Brazil, nonetheless I am very confident ahead of the competition and hope to do as well as I possibly can,” he added.
Uwiragiye, a former karateka, left the country in 2010 to do a Master’s degree course in Plants Biotechnology and Genetics at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
He joined the university’s sports club, and one of his lecturers, after analysing his body structure and athleticism, suggested to him to take up athletics.
In 2011, he was linked with his current coach Hartensveld, and began competing in short distances (3000m-5000m) before stepping up to 10,000m and then half marathon in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, he ventured into full marathon and in April this year, he qualified for the Rio Olympics.