Salome Nyirarukundo is thrilled after setting a new 5,000m U20 national record at the IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships that ended on Sunday in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
A day before the race, she almost pulled out after falling sick, but she defied odds and finished 13th in the girls’ 5,000m final clocking 15:57:68 on Saturday.
She broke her March 13, 2016 national record of 15:57:80, by 12 micro-seconds.
The race attracted 18 competitors from 12 countries.
Ethiopian Kalikdan Fentie, crossed the finish line first in a time of 14:29:64 and was followed by Kenyan Emmaculate Chepkirui in 15:31:12 while Bontu Rebitu from Bahrain took bronze after posting 15:31:93.
Speaking to Times Sport in a phone interview from Bydgoszcz, the 19-year-old Rio Olympics-bound athlete said she is over joyed by the achievement despite the illness which dented her target of a podium finish.
“I am very excited to have broken my own record; it was not my target, because my aim was to win a medal and I believe if it was not for the illness, I would have performed even much better,” said Nyirarukundo.
The athlete added: “I am going to continue working hard and reducing my time before flying to Rio for the Olympics. Also, competing in the IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships for the first time, has given me valuable experience.”
Nyirarukundo qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics last month in the women’s 10,000m during the 20th edition of Africa Athletics Senior Championships held in Durban, South Africa.
Rwanda fielded five athletes at the six-day biennial international event in Poland, but none of them managed a podium finish. Beatha Nishimwe was the last Rwandan to compete in the girls’ 1500m final last evening, but by press time, she had not taken to the field.
The duo of James Sugira (1500m) and Honorine Iribagiza (800m) failed to make it in their respective heats on Tuesday while Jean Marie Vianney Mysairo only finished 11th in the men’s 10,000m final.