RWANDA’s top female athlete Epiphanie Nyirabarame has promised to fly the country’s flag high at the 17th Africa Athletics Championship set for July 28 to August 1 at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya.
The two-time Olympian, who will compete in the 10,000m told Times Sport yesterday that she has prepared well for the championship and expects to beat or at worst match her personal best time of 35minutes and 12seconds.
“Such high profile competitions are always challenging but I have prepared well and should put up a good fight in Nairobi,” she said.
Dieudonne Disi is one other athlete is expected to push for a medal after fully recovering from a sore hamstring which kept him off the track for over three months.
The 29-year-old will also compete in the 10,000m.
Other athletes include Italy-based Eric Sebahire (5000m), Gervais Hakizimana (3000m steeple chase), Joseph Nzirorera (1500m), Potien Ntawuyirushintege (800m) and 4*400m relay runners of Thimote Bagina, Moussa Bizimana, Hermas Muvunyi and Emmanuel Ntakirutimana.
The sprinters include Emmanuel Havugimana (100m), Said Hamisi (200m) and Thimote Bagina (400m).
Claudette Mukasakindi (5000m), Jeanne d’Arc Uwamahoro (400m) and Sophie Kanakuze (100m & 200m) complete the women’s fray.
The coveted event is expected to attract top stars like women double Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, world 800m gold medalist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and two-time World Indoor 800m titleholder Abubaker Kaki among others.
Ethiopia are without doubt Kenya’s key rivals after confirming that they would field 85 athletes, the second largest contingent after Kenya’s 144.
Tirunesh, the reigning African 5,000m champion leads Ethiopia’s surge in Nairobi where she will try to defend her title.
The runner nicknamed “baby faced assassin” is only returning to competition after a knee injury which saw her sit out last year’s World Championships in Berlin.
In the last championships held in Ethiopia, Nigeria won seven golds, seven silver medals and five bronze to finish second to South Africa which claimed 12 gold medals.