John Ruka runs the 100m at Rio Olympics whilst celebrating his second birthday of the year.

By Alice Toomer McAlpine (The Reporters Academy)Earlier this week, Kiribati’s John Ruka predicted that today would be the greatest day of his life, and today he confirmed that his prediction had come true.  The track athlete ran the Men’s 100m at the Olympic Stadium this afternoon at the Rio 2016 Games, the very same day that he celebrated his 21st birthday.

Finishing today with a time of 11.65, 0.26 outside of his personal best set just last month at the Melanesian Championships in Suva, Fiji, John had this to say about his first ever Olympic experience:

“I’m so happy. The race was hard, because it’s my first time at the Olympics, but I’m so happy to be at the Olympics on my birthday.”

John also explained how different an experience running on an Olympic track is for him, compared to running back in Kiribati.

“Today the track felt different because in Kiribati we use the sand. We improvise – we make starting blocks from wood. It’s very different.”
Knowing how excited people back in Kiribati are to have an Olympic athlete representing them, John explained:

“My friends and family are so happy and so proud of me. And for my birthday, my family celebrated in Kiribati for me yesterday.”
The time difference between Rio and Kiribati meant that John is able to celebrate not one but two birthdays, as he turns 21 in each time zone.

As birthday wishes from those back home flooded John’s Facebook yesterday, so did the messages of support for John’s race – supporters back home even baked John a birthday cake decorated with the Olympic rings.

With one Olympic event and one birthday celebration completed in the past 24 hours, John can now celebrate his birthday here in Rio whilst looking back on what he has achieved as an Olympic athlete.