The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Runners in 10,000m Showdown

RWANDAN long distance runners are ready to battle against elite athletes in this weekend's 10,000m London Olympic Games, according to head coach Innocent Rwabuhihi.

Claudette Mukasakindi, with a personal best of 33:51.57, will compete in 10000m women's finals tonight at the Olympic stadium while Robert Kajuga will take part in the 10,000m Men's final tomorrow.

Coach Rwabuhihi said yesterday, "Both athletes are ready for the race though we have had problems adjusting to the weather which has been changing on a daily basis."

"But we have tried to adjust to the conditions and, hopefully, they will put up good performance. It will not be easy for them to win medals but I am optimistic at least on a good performance," added Rwabuhihi.

Mukasakindi will come face to face with defending Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot, the reigning world champion.

After a year-long absence from competition, Dibaba, the double Olympic champion from Beijing, finds herself back in a familiar setting on the eve of the London Games, sitting atop the world list in the 10,000m courtesy of a 30:24.39 victory at the Prefontaine Classic in early June.

It was her first 10,000 race since July 2010, and only the second since her sensational 29:54.66 from her classic contest in Beijing where she was chased to a sub-30 performance by Elvan Abeylegasse.

That's something that Cheruiyot, who duplicated Dibaba's double victory at last year's World Championships, will be keen to focus on in London 2012's first final on the track, a race in which both will be chasing historic firsts.

Cheruiyot, in her third Olympic appearance, is hoping to become the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic 10,000m title. Dibaba meanwhile is aiming to become the first to win back-to-back titles over the distance.

Other athletes in line for the Olympic medal include; Kenya's Sally Kipyego, Ethiopia's Belaynesh Oljira, Russian Yelizaveta Grechishnikova, Portugal's Sara Moreira and Jo Pavey of Great Britain who qualified in the 10,000 after missing out in the Marathon.

The race comprises of 25 grueling track laps with extremely fast pace for a long distance race. The race also needs participating athletes to employ long distance running tactics like fast pace with constant rhythm either individually or as a team.

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