Salome Nyirarukundo, the first Rwandan athlete to win a regional gold medal for two consecutive years, has attributed her success to sacrifices, hard work, and dedication.
The 18-year old won the Dar-es-Salaam Rotary Half Marathon title for the second year running last week after covering the 21.1km distance in one hour, eleven minutes and 34 seconds and bagged a cash prize of Tshs3m (Rwf 1.1m).
“I was super excited to successfully defend my title in a very stylish way because I beat the runner-up with a gap of three minutes, it really showed me how I have developed as an athlete, this is a great achievement to win a race that attracted more than five countries and high profile athletes,” said Nyirarukundo in an exclusive interview with Times Sport
She said: “I love athletics and I’ve dedicated my life to being the best I can be at all times, because if you want to be the best, you have to work hard and dedicate yourself and focus, sacrifice a lot and just stay above and just be strong.”
The Rutsiro-born athlete was also the only Rwandan to make it to the podium in the Kigali International Peace Half Marathon in May, winning a silver medal.
She also made her debut in the Africa Senior Athletics Championship that was held in June in Durban, South Africa, where she finished fourth in the 10,000m and qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
In Rio, Nyirarukundo did not impress though finishing 27th out 35 participants, clocking 32:07:80.
Nonetheless, she still managed to come first in the IAAF yearly rankings, with a total of 1168 points followed by 18-year-old Beatha Nishimwe, who collected 1142 points while Honorine Iribagiza, 17, came in third place with 1118 points.
Meanwhile, her compatriot Céline Iranzi finished in sixth place after posting 1:15:06 while Eric Sebahire who competed in the men’s category finished in the 11th place using one hour and four minutes. Tanzania’s Gabriel Gerald took the gold medal after clocking 1:01:49.