AFTER THREE weeks of high altitude training in Rulindo, Northern Province, head coach Emmanuel Murenzi believes Rwanda’s Africa Cross Country team has hit the required fitness to take on the world’s best.
Twenty athletes have been lined up for the Africa Cross Country Championships due on March 16 at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala, Uganda.
“We have been holding extensive preparations in Rulindo and all seems to be going on well. The players are in perfect condition. We have no injuries and athletes are ready to pick good results in Kampala,” Murenzi told Times Sport.
The team leaves for Kampala on Thursday. Murenzi will take the athletes to try out the Kololo ceremonial grounds course ahead of Saturday’s action.
Murenzi added that Rwanda’s mission will be aimed at improving their 4th place finish two years ago in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) expects a full house during the third Continental Cross Country Championships.
With no World Championships in 2014, CAA Vice President David Okeyo, said over the weekend African countries have a chance to compete at the top level in a discipline that has been dominated by talented athletes from the continent.
“There will be no World Cross Country in 2014, so the teams have a chance to field their best stars and make this event as big as the global one. After all, the World Cross Country Championships is dominated by Africa, US, Qatar and Bahrain,” Okeyo said.
“There should be no excuse in Kampala. We had less than 10 countries in the inaugural event in 2011 in Cape Town, however, that number doubled to 23 in 2012 and now I want us to hit the 53 mark in Uganda,” he added.
Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda are the bigwigs in the discipline and will be looked upon to enter full teams in the event.
“Africa Cross Country might just be the future of this competition globally, because European countries are finding it hard to put their athletes on the winners’ podium. It is a good event for the athletes to use for endurance after a long recess and we hope it will attract top runners,” said Okeyo.
Kenya has previously won all gold medals of the championship.
Men – Eric Sebahire, Léonidas Baganizi, Sept Nshumbusho, Godefrey Rutayisire and Noël Hitimana.
Women – Clémentine Mukandanga, Fortune Manirafasha, Emilienne Muragijimana, Pélagie Musengimana and Blandine Uwamariya.
Boys – David Gakuru, Théophile Bigirimana, Jean Bosco Niyodusenga, Eric Turikunkiko and Jean Marie Vianney Myasiro
Girls – Marthe Yankurije, Rosette Twambazimana, Cynthia Mahoro, Angelique Tuyishimire and Claudine Nyiransengiyumva.