GERVAIS Hakizimana has withdrawn from next week’s 5th World Military Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because of a knee injury.
The 3000m steeple chase specialist, who is based in France, told Times Sport that he is undergoing treatment after stretching his right knee tendon.
“It’s very painful when you pull out at the last minute after weeks of work hard in training but I want to wish my mates the best of luck,” a disappointed Hakizimana said.
He will now spend two weeks off the track before resuming training ahead of September’s World Athletics Championship in Daegu, South Korea.
In his absence, the country’s hunt for silverware will be spearheaded by two-time Olympian Epiphanie Nyirabarame, Claudette Mukasakindi and Eric Sebahire.
Nyirabarame, who will compete in the half marathon category, will also use the games to fine-tune herself for the forthcoming All Africa Games in Maputo as well as next year’s Olympic Games.
Both Sebahire (5000m) and Mukasakindi (5000m & 10000m) will be aiming to improve on their personal records so as to qualify for the All Africa Games.
Dieudonne Disi remains the only athlete to scoop a medal at the World Military Games. In 2004, he won silver in the cross country championship.
The games, which were first held in Rome in 1995, will run from July 16-24 and are expected to attract over 4,900 athletes competing in 24 sporting disciplines.
Like the Olympics, they are held every four years, in the year preceding the Olympic Games.