Nyirarukundo in historic Peace Marathon triumph

IT was a historic moment for Salome Nyirarukundo after winning a gold medal in the Kigali International Peace Marathon, yesterday. The 20-year-old youngster made history after becoming the first Rwandan female athlete to win the half marathon since the inception of the annual event in 2005. The event was graced by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame and her Kenyan counterpart Margaret Kenyatta.
Salome Nyirarukundo  celebrates on the podium. The 20-year old beat Sheilla Chesang from Kenya to win Gold in the Women's half marathon yesterday. S. Ngendahimana
Salome Nyirarukundo celebrates on the podium. The 20-year old beat Sheilla Chesang from Kenya to win Gold in the Women's half marathon yesterday. S. Ngendahimana

Sunday

Full Marathon (42km)

 

Men

 

Gilbert Chumba Kipleting (Ken) 2h: 19’:49”
Edwin Kemboi Kiyeng (Ken) 2h:19’:57”
James Tallam (Ken) 2h:20’:00”

 

Women

Beatrice Rutto Jepkorir (Ken) 2h:46’:38”
Pamela Bundotich Chepkoech (Ken) 2h:47’:21”
Sarah Jerop Legat (Ken) 2h:27’:24”

Half Marathon (21km)

Men

Bartile Kiptoo Kipkoech (Ken) 1h:04’:25”
Ezekiel Mutai Kimeli (Ken) 1h:05’:38”
John Hakizimana (Rwa) 1h:05’:48:”

Women

Salome Nyirarukundo (Rwa) 1h:15’:28”
Sheilla Chesang (Ken) 1h:20’:24”
Claudette Mukasakindi (Rwa) 1h:20’:36”

IT was a historic moment for Salome Nyirarukundo after winning a gold medal in the Kigali International Peace Marathon, yesterday.

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First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame  and First Lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta receiving their medals during the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon

The 20-year-old youngster made history after becoming the first Rwandan female athlete to win the half marathon since the inception of the annual event in 2005. The event was graced by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame and her Kenyan counterpart Margaret Kenyatta.

With this win, Nyirarukundo also becomes the second Rwandan to win gold in Kigali International Peace Marathon after Dieudonne Disi in the men’s half marathon in 2006.

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(L-R) Sheilla Chesang (2nd), Salome Nyirarukundo (1st) and Claudette Mukasakindi (3rd) pose for a photo after winning the Half Marathon in women's category (S Ngendahimana)

The Rutsiro-born athlete comfortably beat her closest contender Sheilla Chesang by a gap of almost five minutes—the Kenyan clocked one hour, 20 minutes and 24 seconds to settle for silver, while Rwandan Claudette Mukasakindi claimed bronze after using one hour, 20 minutes and 36 seconds.

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First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame and her Kenyan counterpart Mrs Margaret Kenyatta of Kenya at the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon

However, after this triumph Nyirarukundo announced that she has put on hold the half marathon running as she turns focus to competing on track.

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First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame at the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon

The former APR athlete revealed to Times Sport in an exclusive interview that this was her last half marathon and will be concentrating on track races, on advice of her Netherlands-based management company, Global Sports Communication.

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First Lady Jeannette Kagame, Uwacu Julienne - Minister of Sports and Culture (right) and Mr. Bart Kofker - CEO of MTN honouring the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon winners

“This is historic for me and the country in general, a very great achievement. I really worked hard to win gold today, and I am very excited about it,” said Nyirarukundo.

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20-year old  Salome Nyirarukundo posted 1h 15 min 28 seconds to win the gold medal in Half Marathon 21 Km race (Sam Ngendahimana)

She added, “I believe working with global communication and training in Kenya has had a great impact on my performance. However, I am also sad to announce that this is my last half marathon race because my managers want me to concentrate on track running ahead of World Championships in London.”

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Winners of Kigali International Peace Marathon hold their cheques and medals

Following a successful 2016, Nyirarukundo attracted attention from the world’s top athletics managers, and in January this year, after parting company with APR Athletics Club, she struck a deal with Global Sports Communication, which also has bases in Uganda, Kenya and China.

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First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame  and First Lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta of Kenya at the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon

The company represents up to 150 athletes from 20 different countries including; Eliud Kipchoge, the 2016 Rio Olympics Marathon gold medalist, Kenenisa Bekele, the current World and Olympic record holder in men’s 5,000m and 10,000m, and Almaz Ayana (Rio Olympics women 10,000m gold medal winner), among others.

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First Lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta accompanied by officials honouring 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon winners

Meanwhile, Kenyans continued their dominancy of the full marathon in both men and women categories.

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Some participants in the Run for Fun category came with their children at the Kigali International Peace Marathon (Sam Ngendahimana)

In the men’s category, Gilbert Chumba Kipleting won gold posting 2h:19’:49” ahead of his compatriots Edwin Kiyeng Kemboi (2h:19’:57”) while James Tallam claimed bronze in 2h:20’:00”.

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(L-R) Kenyan athletes Pamela Chepkoech, Beatrice Jepkorir and Sarah Jerop Legat honour the Kenya National Anthem at the marathon (Sam Ngendahimana)

Beatrice Rutto Jepkorir took gold in the women category using 2h:46’:38”, while Pamela Bundotich Chepkoech claimed silver posting 2h:47’:21” and Sarah Jerop Legat settled for bronze after clocking 2h:47’:24”.

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Athlete Salome Nyirarukundo celebrates her crucial victory to win  Half Marathon in Kigali international Peace Marathon (All photos by Sam Ngendahimana) 
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The 7km Run-for-Peace  participants reach the finish at Amahoro National Stadium
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First Lady Mrs Margaret Kenyatta of Kenya cheering on atheletes at the 2017 Kigali International Peace Marathon
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Local athlete John Hakizimana (R) the third in half marathon men's category, seen here with two Kenyan atheletes during the Kigali Peace Marathon (Sam Ngendahimana)

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