Rwanda: Martha Yankurije Turns Focus to Olympic Games

AFTER a good display at the just-concluded Kigali International Peace Marathon, athlete Martha Yankurije is now turning her focus on the upcoming Olympic Games schedule from July 23 to August 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

The 27-year-old long-distance runner is one of the two Rwandans, and the only female marathoner, who won a gold medal in the half marathon race at last weekend's event, a performance that earned her a wild card to feature at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

In the Olympics, countries that fail to produce athletes who meet qualification standards are granted "wild cards", which allow them to enter competitors whose proven abilities are below the standard otherwise required.

In some instances, wild cards are given to the host nation in order to boost its chances.

For the case of Rwanda, Yankurije has consistently been performing well at different athletics competitions but struggled to meet the times required to earn qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Games and a win in the Peace Marathon was enough for the Olympics Committee to give her a wild card to represent Rwanda at the Olympics as the best Rwandan female marathoner.

"I am proud of my performance at the Peace Marathon. It has shown me that I can be more productive in the Olympic Games if I improve my preparations," Yankurije said

"My focus now is to work hard in training so I can make my country proud in my first appearance in the Olympic Games," she added.

Yankurije made her official debut in Athletics with Nyamasheke athletics club during the 2014 Kigali Half-Marathon during which she made a breakthrough in a strong field of experienced rivals to finish fifth.

The following year, she made her debut in the annual Kigali International Peace Marathon, and put up yet another impressive showing to finish seventh in women's half-marathon.

Her hard work has also taken her places as she travelled to her dream countries, including Japan, where she spent three weeks of intensive preparations prior to competing at this year's All-Africa Games in Morocco in 2019.

Times Sport has established that all athletes will join a residential camp which starts on Wednesday at Golden Tulip Hotel, Nyamata, ahead of the Olympic Games.

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