Rwanda’s full marathon runner Jean Baptiste Simukeka has been disqualified from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics Games, scheduled for August 5-12 in Brazil.
The development was confirmed yesterday by Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee after receiving a letter from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), through the Sport Entries Operational Supervisor, Africa Lídia Oliveira, indicating that the athlete had qualified through an event that is not recognized by the international federation.
The statement reads in part: “Dear friends, I hope you are well. Unfortunately, the International Athletics Federation has just informed us that the athlete Jean Baptiste Simukeka is not eligible to participate in the Rio2016 Games. The event in which he participated in Italy is not an event recognized by the International Federation.”
The 32-year old APR athletic club runner had earned his ticket to Rio from Reggio Emilia marathon, Italy on December 13 after clocking 2:17:14 to finish second in 42km full marathon.
Since then, Simukeka has been training hard for the quadrennial Olympic Games hoping to debut at the world’s most glamorous sports event.
Simukeka was one of the three full marathon runners that were to represent Rwanda in Rio. The others are Claudette Mukasakindi and Ambroise Uwiragiye based in the Netherlands.
Since the mid June, both Simukeka and Mukasakindi are camped in Iten, Kenya where they have been conducting their final training sessions before they could fly to Rio early next month.
Rwanda will now be represented by Mukasakindi and Uwiragiye and Salome Nyirarukundo (who will compete in the women’s 10,000m category) in Athletics.
19-year-old Nyirarukundo qualified last month after impressing at the 20th edition of Africa Athletics Senior Championships in the South African city of Durban.
Apart from athletics, other Rwandans who booked their tickets to Rio include cyclists Nathan Byukusenge (Mountain Bike) and Adrien Niyonshuti (Road racing).
Hermas Muvunyi (middle distance runner) and the national women sitting volleyball team have also qualified for the Rio Paralympics Games, scheduled for September.