Rwanda’s middle distance runner Salome Nyirarukundo has broken silence after making what one would call a modest debut at the just concluded Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The 18-year-old finished 27th out of the 35 participants in the women’s 10,000m posting 32:07:80, which is way below her personal best time that she set during the 20th Africa Athletics Senior competition in Durban, South Africa in June.
The APR athletics club teenager clocked 31:45:82, which was below the minima time of 32 minutes and 15 seconds, to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
In an interview with this paper, the budding youngster recounted her Olympic debut and her plans for 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
On her poor show in Rio, the Rutsiro District-born athlete blamed it on not having ample preparations.
“People blamed us for ‘doing nothing’ in Rio but they forget that we probably had the least preparations compared to our opponents. No matter how good you are, you can’t train for one month and expect to beat someone, who prepared for four years, it’s impossible,” said Nyirarukundo.
She said that if she qualifies for the 2020 Olympic Games as early as possible and get facilitated to prepare, there is no reason as to why she cannot do much better.
“That is my career goal. With four years of experience, and if all goes well, in Tokyo history can be made. Of course it’s not easy against the best in the world but, if I get high level preparations, going by what I witnessed firsthand in Rio, there is no reason not to dream big,” she stated.
Nyirarukundo was the only Rwandan athlete to claim a podium finish(second) in this year’s Kigali International Peace Marathon held in May before competing in Africa Athletics Senior Championship in South Africa in June where she qualified for the Olympic Games.
From South Africa, the teenager competed in the IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland finishing 13th in the 5,000m clocking 15:57:68 hence breaking her March 13, 2016 national record of 15:57:80, by 12 micro-seconds.
Nyirarukundo who was among the three runners that represented Rwanda in Rio said competing in the world’s biggest sports event was a life-time experience.
“You can’t compare it to anything, and it was a very good learning experience for me, at a personal level since it was my first Olympics and it opened my eyes about what to expect at Tokyo 2020 in case I qualify.”
The others were Claudette Mukasakindi, who finished 126th out of 133 runners in the women marathon, clocking 3:05:57 and Ambroise Uwiringiye, who came in 99th position out of 140 finishers – the Netherlands-based athlete used 2 hours, 25 minutes and 57 seconds on his Olympics debut.