Four Rwandan athletes to the 36th edition of the IAAF World Cross Country Championship which climaxed yesterday in Edinburgh, Scotland didn’t start due to reasons yet to be known.
Team captain Gervais Hakizimana, Svlvain Rukundo, Jean Baptiste Simuceka and female star Angelline Nyiransabimana didn’t take part in the World event according to the results released by the International Athletics Amateur Federation yesterday.
Meanwhile, Rwanda’s lone hope at the world event, Dieudonne Disi started the championship but did not finish thus hampering Rwanda’s chances of settling for any silverware at the championship.
The Rwandan team was expected to leave for Scotland on Saturday night from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where they had stopped to pick their visas.
The Rwandan team which applied for British visas on Tuesday last week was initially expected to head for Scotland on Thursday but the visa hitch forced the team to shift their travel to Friday but this was not possible and the team later made it to Kenya the following day.
It is reported that they may have found difficulties in reaching Edinburgh the following day (Sunday morning) before the championship unfolded.
Before their departure, Times Sport talked to athletics team head coach Adolph According to Rukenkanya, only five members on the team managed to acquire visas and they included Rukenkanya, Rukundo, Hakizimana, Simuceka and Nyiransabimana respectively.
Those who were denied visas included Felix Ntirenganya, Godfrey Rutayisire Cyriaque Ndayikengurikiye, Pelagie Musengimana and Claudette Mukasakindi and Genessi Nyirahabimana.
Efforts to contact to the British Embassy in Kampala who were supposed to issue visas to Rwandan team proved futile by press time.
What surprised every body is the fact that none of the sports administrators in the country was aware of this problem which may also see the international athletics body ban Rwanda in future championships.
High profile sports administrators who Timesport managed to talk to last night were in shock on hearing the embarrassing news.
The Sports Ministry Secretary General, Jean Pierre Karabaranga, Director of Sport Gaspard Kaijuka, Athletics federation president Jean Paul Munyandamutsa and Secretary General Appolinaire Munyangoga, were some of the officials that Timesport contacted.
The fact that Rwanda made a false start to this year’s edition didn’t stop Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele from claiming his sixth record title in the World cross country championship history.
Bekele became the first man to win the world cross country championship long course title six times when he led home an Ethiopian clean sweep of the four individual gold medals.
Bekele took his remarkable tally to 11 senior world cross country titles in all and gained ample revenge for his surprise defeat by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadesse last year when he blasted clear on the final lap of the 12km course to finish ahead of Kenyan outsider Leonard Patrick Komon with Tadesse third.
Tirunesh Dibaba, champion in 2005 and 2006, took the women’s race following success for her younger sister Genzebe in the junior women’s race and a win for Ibrahim Jeilan in the junior men’s event.
Ethiopia won two of the four team golds, Kenya spoiling the card with success in both men’s events, to complete a glorious comeback after their disappointment of last season when the heat of Mombasa contributed to their worst performance for years.
It was the first time Ethiopia have won all four individual golds, and the first clean sweep since Kenya achieved the feat in 1994.
Bekele, the Olympic and triple world champion over 10,000 metres on the track, had won both the long and, now discontinued, short course world titles five years in a row until he dropped out during last year’s race and was desperate to make amends in Edinburgh, where he beat Tadese over the same course in January.
Tadese tried to stretch things out by setting a hot early pace and it paid off in as much as a group of four broke well clear of the pack.
But Bekele, still only 25, had plenty in the tank and showed his class when he pulled clear approaching the last of six laps.His victory took him ahead of Kenyans John Ngugi and Paul Tergat, who both won five long course titles, and underlined his position as the dominant force in distance running on or off the track.
Dibaba, upset by Dutchwoman Lornah Kiplagat in Mombasa last year, timed her run expertly over the women’s 8km course, piling on the pressure on Haggis Knowe to break a leading pack of four then driving home to finish in 25.10.