Middle distance runners Emmanuel Mutabazi and Emelyne Imanizabayo on Saturday struck gold to win the 2023 national Cross Country athletics championship held at IPRC-Kigali. The competition, which closed Rwanda’s 2023 athletics calendar, is normally organised to select best performing athletes from various clubs to join the national athletics team to prepare for international competitions. Mutabazi, who runs for Police Athletics Club, won the championship in senior men category after running a distance of 10.2km in 30:28.18, overcoming stiff competition from APR Athletics Club duo Noel Hitimana (30:53.66) and Jean Claude Nsabimana (31:04.51) who finished second and third respectively. ALSO READ: Team Rwanda ready for Africa cross-country In the U17 category, Sandrine Niyomugenga of Sina Gerard Athletics Club crossed the finish line first to strike gold after running 4km in 16:44.15 while Ephrem Niyigena of Sina Gerard won the boys race after clocking 19:00.04 in a distance of 6km. Protais Iratuzi of Nyaruguru AC emerged second while Kavumu AC’s Ishimwe Emmanuel complete the podium on third place. In the U20 category, Sina Gerard duo Claire Uwitonze (girls) and Samuel Ikizere(boys) emerged victorious to cement dominance of the Northern Province-based club in the competition. Overall, Sina Gerard AC dominated the podium on individual and team levels, winning trophies and cash prizes in U17 girls, U20 (girls and boys) as well as senior women category while Nyaruguru won a prize in U17 boys as APR AC toppled the rest in senior men category.