THE African champion Hermas Cliff Muvunyi will face fierce competition this morning as he seeks to qualify for the 400m T46 finals in the on-going IPC World Athletics Championship in Lyon, France.
Muvunyi who goes into the Rhone stadium at 10am local time face strong challenge from seven elite athletes in the first heat stage race of the 400m T46 category.
The Rwandan whose 800m T46 gold medal win will boost his qualification to the final will line up against Dena Pathiran from Sri Lanka, Mazin Aldosai from Saudi Arabia, Shane Hudson from Jamaica, Tshepo Bhebe from Namibia and Ashida Hajimu from Japan.
Muvunyi with a personal best of 49.59 seconds should be wary of Sri Lanka’s Dena and Jamaica’s Shane who have a better timing of 49.28 and 49.43 respectively.
The 24-year-old, who holds the record of the fastest African Paralympian in 400m after clocking 49.75secs at the 2012 London Paralympics games will be seeking to even break his African own record and the world record held by Francis Heath from Australia of 47:69 seconds which he set during the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Games.
The national champion won the first gold medal for Rwanda in his maiden appearance at the sixth IPC Athletics World Championships on Monday after storming to victory in 800m T46 category running 1:54:06 to register his best personal time of his career.
The other heat stage set seven minutes later will be comprised of London Paralympic winner Gunther Matzinger from Austria, Brazilian Souza Emicarlo, Calderon Ettiam from Cuba, Briceno Wuillian from Venezuela, Bascoe David from Jamaica, Gobbi Samuele from Italy and Elias Ndimulunde from Namibia respectively.
The first three in each heat and the next two fastest athletes will advance to the final for friday morning at Rhone stadium.
The Rwanda Paralympic committee (NPC) is optimistic Muvunyi will have easy sail into the final and secure his second gold medal for the country.
The NPC chief Celestin Nizeyimana said yesterday, “Muvunyi is ready for the challenge tomorrow [today] and we are looking forward to see him qualify to the final,”
“He will win another gold medal.Basing on previous tournaments, he has had an upper edge winning 400m to 800m races. We are waiting for him to launch another brilliant performance in the 400m,” added Nizeyimana.