Rwanda’s lone hope Sylvain Rukundo bowed out of the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championship in Valencia after failing to qualify for the finals of the 3000m yesterday.
Rukundo finished tenth in Heat Two clocking 8:02:49, his personal best for the season.
Kenya’s Paul Kipsiele Koech won the heat stage in 7:54.46 to comfortably book his final spot.
In the first heat, another Kenyan Edwin Cheruiyot Soi clocked 8:03.54 beating Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele to first spot.
Other athletes who reached the finals are Mohammed Farah of Great Britain, Spanish Sergio Sanchez, Ethiopian Abraham Cherkos, Australian Craig Mottram and Moroccan Ali Maataoui.
Those who qualified on the fastest time merit include; Kenyan-Qatar born James Kwalia C’Kurui, USA born Jonathon Riley, Germany’s Arne Gabius and Algeria’s Kamal Boulahfane.
Like Rukundo, Burundi’s Audace Baguma finished last in heat two and clocked 8:10:56 while Tanzania’s Dickson Marwa was disqualified after pulling out of the race.
Rukundo’s failure to reach the final evokes memories of another long distance runner Mathius Ntawurikura who has failed to reach the final stage of the World indoor championship.
Ntawurikura failed to reach the final stage of 3000m in the 1991 edition which was held in Seville, Spain. Sunday’s 3000m finals will involve Bekele ‘junior’ who has eyeing a medal for Ethiopia against Kenyans.
Kenenisia Bekele, Tariku’s elder brother pulled out of the event choosing to focus his attention on regaining the World Cross Country title. Leading the Kenyan challenge is Steeplechase specialist Paul Kipsiele Koech, who has performed admirably indoors.
Other Ethiopian in the mix include Bekele’s back-up, teenager Abraham Feleke, who cruised to a World junior best 7:38.03 in Stuttgart behind the younger Bekele.
Kenya’s Edwin Cheruiyot Soi, who celebrated his 22nd birthday this week, is the other Kenyan who has a 7:36.70 personal best to his credit this season set on the Valencia track.
In the women category, Ethiopian Meseret Defar’s dream of securing a hat-trick of World Indoor 3000m titles is firmly on track after she cruised into today’s final by taking a comfortable heat one victory in 8:51.02.