The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Kajuga Eyes 20km De Kigali Victory

Long-distance runner Robert Kajuga is determined to end the year on a successful note by winning the revived 20km de Kigali competition scheduled for today in Kigali City.

Kajuga, favourite to win the competition, told Sunday Sport yesterday that he is very much focused and ready to leap big for his festive season by winning the competition.

"I have trained well and I don't think there is anything to blame if I fail to win the competition. Am optimistic on winning the race though there will be stiff challenge for honours," added Kajuga.

The 27-year-old has taken local athletics by storm after some breathtaking performances over the last two years and is already touted to be Rwanda's next big thing in athletics after veteran runner Dieudonne Disi.

He first caught the eye of the federation back in 2010 when he won the 1500m race in the National Inter-school Championship. The display earned him a call-up to the national team and he has not looked back since.

Last year, he competed in two high-profile races which confirmed his raw talent: the All Africa Games in Mozambique, where he finished 9th in the 5000m, and the Tanzanian Half Marathon, which he won after clocking 1:02:00.

He followed up those performances with a 9th spot finish in the 2012 African Cross Country Championship which was held in South Africa in March.

The following month, he finished 6th in the Morocco Half Marathon and followed it up with a podium finish (3rd) in the International Peace Marathon and a 5th spot finish in the 18th African Senior Championship in Benin which consequently qualified him for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Taking on a strong field which included the likes of Mo Farah of Great Britain, the Bekele brothers Kenenisa and Tariku of Ethiopia and USA's Galen Rupp in the 10, 000m race, Kajuga defied odds to record Rwanda's best performance ever finishing 14th to set a personal best of 27:56:67.

He faces stiff challenge from his teammates Jean Marie Uwajeneza, Cyriaque Ndayikengurukiye, Sylvain Rukundo, Godfrey Rutayisire, Jean Marie Vianney Uwajeneza, Alexis Nizeyimana and Potien Ntawuyirushintego.

The competition which has attracted 150 participants, starts at Amahoro through Chez Lando-Kacyiru-Kinamba-Kanogo-Rwandex-Sonatube-Press House-Chez Lando and back to Amahoro Stadium.

The federation will award the ten best runners in both men and women categories. A total of between Rwf3 million to 4 million worth of cash prizes will be given to winners.

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