Following their modest performance at the just concluded 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, team captain Alexis Nizeyimana believes that the country still has a long journey to go to catch up with their neighbours in the Eastern Africa that have taken over the athletics world.
The 26-year-old athlete made the remarks after Team Rwanda’s far from convincing performance at the 42nd edition that took place in Kampala on Sunday.
With the likes of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea grabbing medals at the one-day world’s most prestigious cross country championship, Rwanda came back empty handed finishing in the 10th place in the senior men’s category, the only category where Rwanda was represented.
Rwanda was the least ranked country among the countries in the East African region with Burundi and Tanzania even finishing above them in the sixth and seventh places, respectively.
According to Nizeyimana who was the most experienced athlete on the team, the team was easily outcompeted because other regional athletes and countries invest a lot in preparations for such international events, something that is still lacking in Rwanda.
“Given the level of preparations we had (two weeks) and the quality of athletes we competed against, I think we tried our level best, we (Rwanda) are really still behind in terms of preparing athletes for these events,” said Nizeyimana
“The reality is that Rwanda has got very talented athletes that I believe can successfully compete with the Kenyans, Ethiopians and Ugandans, but they always beat us because they do prepare at a very advanced level which we have not managed to reach on our side, two weeks of preparations is never enough to win a medal at world championships,” he further noted
Rwanda fielded six athletes in the senior men’s race; reigning national cross country champion James Sugira, 20, was Rwanda’s best performer finishing in the 48th place posting 30’:54” while Nizeyimana came in the 54th place posting 31’:11” with Premien Manirafasha coming in 57th place in 31’:19”.
David Gakuru came in 60th place clocking 31’:26”, Jean Marie Vianney Myasiro posted 31’:36” to finish 66th and Siragi Rubayita crossed the finish line in 106th position using 33’:54”. Of the 146 athletes that started the race, 132 managed to finish.
Team Rwanda finished in the 10th place hence failing to improve on their performance at the previous edition that was held in Guiyang, China where they finished eighth.
Kenya, 12 (4 Gold, 5 Silver, and 3 Bronze) was followed by Ethiopia in the medal table with nine medals (4 Gold, 4 Silver, and 1 Bronze) and hosts Uganda came third with three (1 Gold and 2 Bronze).