HOPES ARE high as Team Rwanda jets out of the country this afternoon for the IAAF/AL Bank World Half Marathon Championships due in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sunday.
Alexis Nizeyimana, the 2013 MTN Kigali half marathon winner will lead the four-man strong team in the hunt for medals on Sunday.
Head coach Innocent Rwabuhihi said the team has prepared well for the competition.
“We have had good preparations over the past few weeks and my athletes are ready to post a good performance in Denmark. We are heading to Denmark with a target of at least making the top-ten on Sunday and I believe my athletes will be eager to improve on their personal best timings to achieve this target,” Coach Rwabuhihi told Times Sport yesterday.
Other athletes on the squad are Félicien Muhitira, Hussein Habumugisha and Felix Ntirenganya.
Rwanda finished sixth in the 2012 edition held in Kavarna, Bulgaria but this time will be aiming to make it among the best five nations.
In Kavarna, Robert Kajuga who has been down with an ankle injury since late last year was the best placed Rwandan having finished 12th in one hour, two minutes and thirty three seconds.
Rwanda’s medal hopes lie in Nizeyimana who has a personal best of one hour, two minutes and twenty one seconds, which he posted as he won his inaugural MTN Kigali half marathon last year.
The other members of the team also stand a chance to exhibit brilliant performances.
Félicien Muhitira and Hussein Habumugisha will be making their debut in the World championship.
They finished in second and third position with a time of 1:02:38 and 1:03:06 respectively, in last year’s MTN Kigali half marathon.
Veteran Felix Ntirenganya who finished fourth after clocking 1:03:19, is the most experienced athlete on the team having competed in different world cross country championships.
No story on the World Half Marathon Championships would be complete without a mention of five-time winner Zersenay Tadese. The Eritrean is the most decorated athlete in the history of the championships, having won 12 medals, five of them gold.
On the all-time medals table for the event, if Tadese were entered as a separate nation, he would be ranked fourth behind only Kenya, Ethiopia and Romania.
Tadese is in Copenhagen, looking for an unprecedented sixth gold medal in what will be a record ninth appearance at the championships. If he makes it on to the podium, he would become the oldest ever men’s individual medalist at the World Half Marathon Championships.
The Kenyan team will be another team to pose a great threat with the 2010 winner, Wilson Kiprop, among the men expected to give Tadese tight challenge. Kiprop defeated the five-time champion in Nanning, China in 2010.