Kigali International Peace Marathon reigning champion (women’s half-marathon), Salome Nyirarukundo is keen to make a memorable debut at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
The 21st edition of the international multi-sport event is scheduled for April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Queensland – Australia. Nyirarukundo is part of a 17-athlete delegation to represent Rwanda.
The country’s leading middle and long distance runner will compete in women’s 10,000 metres, where she will be looking to improve her personal best which stands at 31:45:82.
“Commonwealth Games are a big event, winning a medal there is almost as huge as winning an Olympic or World Championship medal. But, I am in good form and have had quality preparations, and I want to represent my country as a competitor, not a mere participant,” she told Times Sport on Tuesday.
While Ethiopia is not part of the Commonwealth Games, Nyirarukundo singles out Kenyans as her main rivals, but, also acknowledges that, “there is no one to undermine.”
“It is an open secret that Ethiopia and Kenya are the world leaders in distance running but because Ethiopia is not part of the Commonwealth, it leaves Kenyans as overwhelming favourites. My dream is to see my country’s flag flying high for the first time at these games,” she noted.
After a stellar performance last month at the Barcelona Half-Marathon in Spain, where she won bronze in a personal best (1:08:36), Nyirarukundo connected directly to Eldoret, Kenya for intensive training at the Global Communications Training Centre.
“I had one month of intensive training in Kenya, very good preparations. I trained with Kenya’s leading athletes, some of which I am going to compete against in Australia. I look forward to seeing the hard work I invested in training, pay off.”
Nyirarukundo, 21, got back in the country last week to join the residential camp at Five to Five Hotel with the rest of Team Rwanda. The team trains daily at Amahoro National Stadium ahead of the departure to the Gold Coast on March 24.
Nyirarukundo represented Rwanda at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she finished 27th on a 37-runner start-list in women’s 10,000 metres, clocking 32 minutes, 7 seconds and 80 microseconds.
The APR athletics club runner made history last year by becoming the first and only Rwandan to win the women’s half-marathon in Kigali International Peace Marathon.
A total of 17 athletes across four different sporting disciplines will carry the country’s quest for a historic first Commonwealth Games medal. Rwanda will have representatives in cycling, athletics, beach volleyball and Para-Powerlifting.