Kenya: Three Kenyan Athletes Acquire Romanian Citizenship

Three Kenyan athletes have secured citizenship in a foreign country in a bid to get more competing opportunities in global events.

Joan Chelimo, Stella Ruto and Delvine Meringor on Thursday acquired Romania citizenship, thereafter, they addressed the media after a brief oath taking ceremony.

Donning dresses fashioned out of the Romanian national flag, the trio took an oath while holding a Bible. They then signed documents and took pictures in the company of four officials in their foster country while holding the Romanian flag.

The three athletes join a growing list of Kenyan runners who have changed their citizenship and are likely to put a show at the Tokyo Olympics Games set for July 23 to August 8.

Kenyan trials for major events such as the coveted Olympic Games and the World Athletics Championships are usually competitive.

By changing their nationality, the three athletes stand a better chance of the making the cut in the new country.

Chelimo said the day was special for her after acquiring Romanian nationality, and she is looking forward to representing her new country with pride.

"It is a special day because we love Romania, and we have acquired citizenship. We look forward to representing the country at various events and positing good results," said Chelimo.

The two-time Boston Half Marathon champion further said that the change of nationality has given her a chance to represent her new home in the Olympic Games and at the World Championships.

"I hope to make Romania proud by winning medals in the Olympic Games, the World Championships and in future events," she added.

Chelimo, who spoke to Nation Sport on the phone from Romania, said she was emotional during the ceremony because they had waited anxiously for it to happen for two years.

"I have been at the Steau Athletics Club for two years, and I'm so excited to have finalised the process," she said.

Chelimo made the 10,000 metres Olympic mark last week in her first event in Stockholm, Sweden where she clocked 30:46:51, finishing second behind Kenya's Sheila Chepkirui who timed 30:45.81.

Chelimo has also met the marathon qualifying time after she clocked 2:20:57 in the Valencia Marathon in December last year.

But at this point, Chelimo does not know if she will participate in the Olympic Games or not but a decision will soon be made.

"I will make a decision on which race to participate in when the time comes," she said.

Stella Ruto is an upcoming 3,000m steeplechase runner while Delvine Meringor is a marathoner.

Meringor attained the Olympics Games qualification mark in Siena Marathon last month where she clocked 2:24:32.

Meringor is happy that she will be representing Romania in various events and her dream of competing in the World Championships and Olympics Games is coming to pass.

"I will be looking forward to doing well and make the country proud," said Meringor.

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