Athlete Profile

Dieudonné Disi

  • COUNTRY Rwanda Rwanda
  • DATE OF BIRTH 24 NOV 1980
Dieudonne Disi wins in Delhi in 2007 (AFP / Getty Images)
Dieudonne Disi wins in Delhi in 2007 (AFP / Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Rwanda Rwanda
  • DATE OF BIRTH 24 NOV 1980


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Updated 27 March 2008

Dieudonne DISI, Rwanda

(3000, 5000, 10,000, Half Marathon, cross country) 

Born: 24 November, 1980.

Place: Nyanzo, Butare, Southern Province, Rwanda.

Height: 1.76m; Weight: 54kg

Residence: Kigali, Rwanda

Manager: Ricky Simms

Coach: Philippe Plancke


During the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, during which he witnessed the murder of his mother and suffered the deaths of several more members of his family, Dieudonne Disi fled alone to Burundi in a bid to escape the gruesome acts. Like most Eastern African youths, his sporting interests began with soccer, and also volleyball, although he did show some early running ability. But he concentrated on athletics only after joining the army, having returned to Rwanda.

When Disi went back to his homeland, he returned to school to study. Then, after entering the military in 2000, winning the World Military Cross Country Championship in 2003 and finishing 30th in 2003 World Cross Country Championships, in Lausanne, his potential was spotted by Benjamin Limo, Kenya’s 2005 world 5000m champion. Limo was impressed with Disi’s brave front running over 10,000m at the 2003 World Military Championships, held in December, in Catania, Italy. Although he finished second, on Limo’s recommendation he was taken on by the London-based coach and manager, Ricky Simms, who invited him to train with top Kenyan athletes in the PACE Management training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya.

Benefiting from their support, Disi won a silver medal at the World Military Cross Country Championships, then finished 18th in the 2004 World Cross Country Championships in Brussels. “I was very pleased with the level of improvement,” he said. “Benjamin Limo promised me that he was going to find me a manager. There was no room for error so I started taking my running more seriously. At the same time, I had the pressure to fit into society. The first time in the cold weather, the situation made me stronger. The running was hard, completely different. I had to do so much in six months.

Disi went on to record personal bests, and his first European victories, at 3000m in Bydgoszcz, Poland (8:04.85) and 5000m in Solihull, England (13:38.12).  He also improved his 10,000m time to 28:01.34 in the Hengelo Grand Prix.  He led the opening laps of the Olympic Games 10,000m final but faded at the end, eventually, finishing 17th. “That was a shocker,” he said with a laugh. “But I believe there are no limits. I’ll just keep pushing my body to run faster.”

Disi started the 2005 season with victory in the Valladolid cross country race in Spain and had high hopes of a top-10 finish in the World Cross Country Championships in St-Etienne/St-Galmier, France.  However, travel and visa problems resulted in the Rwanda team arriving in France only a few hours before the start of the race after spending two days sleeping at Brussels airport.  He finished a disappointing 32nd.

After this he took victories in the Rostock 10k and Chemnitz 10k road races and, on the track, won the European Champion Clubs Group B 3000m and 5000m titles in Portugal, competing for the Slovak club, Spartak Dubnica. He competed in the World Championships, in Helsinki, finishing 17th in the 10,000m (27:53.51). Disi ended the year with gold in the Francophone Games 10,000m and bronze in the 5000m where, unimpressed that the organisers did not have his National anthem, he took the microphone and sang it himself.  He describes this as one of the proudest moments in his career to date, “This was one of my last meets of the year so I was glad after winning medals at the right time,” said Disi.
 
In 2006, Disi returned to the Spanish cross country circuit, placing 3rd in both the Haro and Valladolid meets.  In the World Cross Country, in Fukuoka, Japan, he started very fast and found himself alone at the front with a 50m lead over the chasing pack after the first 2km. He was later overhauled and, suffering from his early exertions, eventually finished 40th.  In September of 2006 Disi made his half marathon debut in Lille, clocking 61:26 for 5th position.

One month later he placed 9th in the World Road Running Championships over 20km in Debrecen and this performance made him start to think that his future lay on the roads. He travelled to Nigeria in November and placed 13th in the Obudu Mountain Race and 3rd in the Lagos half marathon. “I want to collect the title and a win for Rwanda, apart from the war that the Rwanda is known for, the medals are there but people focus on something else,” Disi  said before departing for Lagos.
 
In 2007, having once again prepared for the World Cross Country Championships in the PACE training camp in Kenya, the rapidly improving Rwandan placed 23rd in the heat of Mombasa. He was just outside the medals finishing 4th in the African Games Half Marathon in Alger but later in the year made a breakthrough performance on the track, smashing the National 10,000m record with a time of 27:22.28 in the Memorial Van Damme meeting in Brussels.  On the roads he truly progressed into a world class runner ending the season with excellent victories in the New Delhi Half Marathon, Lagos Half Marathon, Reims Half Marathon, Roanne 10k and placed 6th in a National record 59:32 in the IWorld Half Marathon Championships, in Udine, his first time under the magical one hour barrier.

In an interview with Athletics Weekly, in January 2006, the magazine reported: “It is hard for many Westerners to comprehend what confronted the then 14-year-old Dieudonne Disi in 1994. The tiny east African nation of Rwanda was in the middle of one of the most traumatic episodes of the 20th Century. In the space of 100 days, more than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were slaughtered in a mass genocide perpetrated by the majority race, the Hutus.

“Disi, a Tutsi, lived in fear of his life. So, to escape almost certain death, he hid in the garden while witnessing the murder of his mother. He was then forced to endure a terrifyingly dangerous 50km journey on foot to safety over the Burundian border.

“Disi was born into a relatively well-to-do family with his eight brothers and two sisters in a small village in southern Rwanda. His mother and father were teachers.

“As the genocide spread the Hutus quickly descended on Disi’s home district of Ntyazo Butare. But, as Disi’s mother and father prayed, the teenager hid in fear. He explains:” As my family was busy praying, I sneaked away and went to hide behind a huge flower in our garden. My mother was the first to be killed and I was watching from where I was hiding. Others were taken and killed. I hid until evening and, when it was dark I started my terrifying journey. I was alone and I knew my parents were killed as well as my eight brothers.”


Personal Bests

3000m: 8:04.85 (2004); 8:01.73i (2006)
5000m: 13:38.12 (2004)
10,000m: 27:22.28 (2007)
10k: 28:39 (2007)
20k: 57:42 (2006)
Half Marathon: 59:32 (2007)


Yearly Progression

3000m: 2004: 8:04.85; 2005: 8:13.33; 2006: 8:01.73i
5000m: 2002: 14:05.58; 2004: 13:38.12; 2005: 14:09.9; 2007: 13:47.30
10,000m: 2002: 29:56.0; 2003: 28:37.69; 2004: 28:01.34; 2005: 27:53.51; 2007: 27:22.28
Half Marathon: 2006: 61:26; 2007: 59:32


Career Highlights

2003 1st  World Military Cross Country Championships
2004   2nd      World Military Cross Country Championships
2004 18th  World Cross Country Championships (12k)
2004 4th  African Championships (10,000m)
2004  17th  Olympic Games (10,000m)
2005 3rd  Francophone Games (5000m)
2005  1st  Francophone Games (10,000m)
2005 17th  World Championships (10,000m)
2006 9th  World Road Running Championships (20km)
2007   6th       World Road Running Championships
2007   4th       All Africa Games (half marathon)
2007 23rd  World Cross Country Championships


Prepared by Bonnie Mugabe for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright  IAAF 2008.

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
3000 Metres 7:50.81 Paris Saint-Denis 18 JUL 2008
5000 Metres 13:25.13 Heusden-Zolder 20 JUL 2008
10,000 Metres 27:22.28 Bruxelles 14 SEP 2007
10 Kilometres 27:38 Udine 14 OCT 2007
15 Kilometres 42:07 Udine 14 OCT 2007
20 Kilometres 56:31 Udine 14 OCT 2007
Half Marathon 59:32 Udine 14 OCT 2007
25 Kilometres 1:14:22 Paris 05 APR 2009
30 Kilometres 1:29:29 Paris 05 APR 2009
Marathon 2:12:51 Paris 05 APR 2009
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
3000 Metres 8:01.73 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 10 MAR 2006
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 7:50.81 Paris Saint-Denis 18 JUL
2004 8:04.85 Bydgoszcz 05 JUN
5000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 13:25.13 Heusden-Zolder 20 JUL
2007 13:47.30 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 30 AUG
2004 13:38.12 Solihull 22 MAY
2002 14:05.58 Radés 10 AUG
10,000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2009 29:38.68 Beyrouth 01 OCT
2008 27:56.74 Beijing (National Stadium) 17 AUG
2007 27:22.28 Bruxelles 14 SEP
2005 27:53.51 Helsinki 08 AUG
2004 28:01.34 Hengelo 31 MAY
2003 28:37.69 Abuja 12 OCT
10 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 27:55 New Delhi 09 NOV
2007 27:38 Udine 14 OCT
2006 28:21 Debrecen 08 OCT
15 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2008 42:42 Rotterdam 14 SEP
2007 42:07 Udine 14 OCT
2006 42:57 Debrecen 08 OCT
20 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2007 56:31 Udine 14 OCT
2006 57:42 Debrecen 08 OCT
Half Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2011 1:07:12 Egmond aan Zee 09 JAN
2009 1:01:11 Lille 05 SEP
2008 1:00:06 Rotterdam 14 SEP
2007 59:32 Udine 14 OCT
2006 1:01:26 Lille 02 SEP
2000 1:11:52 Veracruz 12 NOV
25 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2009 1:14:22 Paris 05 APR
30 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2009 1:29:29 Paris 05 APR
Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2009 2:12:51 Paris 05 APR
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2006 8:01.73 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 10 MAR
Honours - 3000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
11th IAAF World Indoor Championships 8h2 8:01.73 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 10 MAR 2006
10th IAAF World Indoor Championships h1 DNS Budapest (SA) 05 MAR 2004
Honours - 5000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 11h2 13:47.30 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 30 AUG 2007
Honours - 10,000 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
The XXIX Olympic Games 19 27:56.74 Beijing (National Stadium) 17 AUG 2008
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 17 27:53.51 Helsinki 08 AUG 2005
28th Olympic Games 17 28:43.19 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 20 AUG 2004
Honours - 20 Kilometres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
1st IAAF World Road Running Championships 9 57:42 Debrecen 08 OCT 2006
Honours - Half Marathon
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF / Caixa World Half Marathon Championships 6 1:03:03 Rio de Janeiro 12 OCT 2008
2nd IAAF World Road Running Championships 6 59:32 Udine 14 OCT 2007
IAAF World Half Marathon Championships 69 1:11:52 Veracruz 12 NOV 2000
Honours - Marathon
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics f DNF Berlin 22 AUG 2009
Honours - Senior Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
36th IAAF World Cross Country Championships f DNF Edinburgh (Holyrood Park) 30 MAR 2008
35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 23 38:07 Mombasa 24 MAR 2007
Honours - Short Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
30th IAAF/Sport Ireland World Cross Country Championships 87 13:22 Dublin 23 MAR 2002
Honours - Long Race
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
34th IAAF World Cross Country Championships 40 37:27 Fukuoka 02 APR 2006
33rd IAAF World Cross Country Championships 32 37:41 Saint - Galmier 20 MAR 2005
32nd IAAF World Cross Country Championships 18 37:36 Bruxelles 21 MAR 2004
31st IAAF World Cross Country Championships 30 38:38 Lausanne 30 MAR 2003
30th IAAF/Sport Ireland World Cross Country Championships 54 37:14 Dublin 24 MAR 2002


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Updated 27 March 2008

Dieudonne DISI, Rwanda

(3000, 5000, 10,000, Half Marathon, cross country) 

Born: 24 November, 1980.

Place: Nyanzo, Butare, Southern Province, Rwanda.

Height: 1.76m; Weight: 54kg

Residence: Kigali, Rwanda

Manager: Ricky Simms

Coach: Philippe Plancke


During the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, during which he witnessed the murder of his mother and suffered the deaths of several more members of his family, Dieudonne Disi fled alone to Burundi in a bid to escape the gruesome acts. Like most Eastern African youths, his sporting interests began with soccer, and also volleyball, although he did show some early running ability. But he concentrated on athletics only after joining the army, having returned to Rwanda.

When Disi went back to his homeland, he returned to school to study. Then, after entering the military in 2000, winning the World Military Cross Country Championship in 2003 and finishing 30th in 2003 World Cross Country Championships, in Lausanne, his potential was spotted by Benjamin Limo, Kenya’s 2005 world 5000m champion. Limo was impressed with Disi’s brave front running over 10,000m at the 2003 World Military Championships, held in December, in Catania, Italy. Although he finished second, on Limo’s recommendation he was taken on by the London-based coach and manager, Ricky Simms, who invited him to train with top Kenyan athletes in the PACE Management training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya.

Benefiting from their support, Disi won a silver medal at the World Military Cross Country Championships, then finished 18th in the 2004 World Cross Country Championships in Brussels. “I was very pleased with the level of improvement,” he said. “Benjamin Limo promised me that he was going to find me a manager. There was no room for error so I started taking my running more seriously. At the same time, I had the pressure to fit into society. The first time in the cold weather, the situation made me stronger. The running was hard, completely different. I had to do so much in six months.

Disi went on to record personal bests, and his first European victories, at 3000m in Bydgoszcz, Poland (8:04.85) and 5000m in Solihull, England (13:38.12).  He also improved his 10,000m time to 28:01.34 in the Hengelo Grand Prix.  He led the opening laps of the Olympic Games 10,000m final but faded at the end, eventually, finishing 17th. “That was a shocker,” he said with a laugh. “But I believe there are no limits. I’ll just keep pushing my body to run faster.”

Disi started the 2005 season with victory in the Valladolid cross country race in Spain and had high hopes of a top-10 finish in the World Cross Country Championships in St-Etienne/St-Galmier, France.  However, travel and visa problems resulted in the Rwanda team arriving in France only a few hours before the start of the race after spending two days sleeping at Brussels airport.  He finished a disappointing 32nd.

After this he took victories in the Rostock 10k and Chemnitz 10k road races and, on the track, won the European Champion Clubs Group B 3000m and 5000m titles in Portugal, competing for the Slovak club, Spartak Dubnica. He competed in the World Championships, in Helsinki, finishing 17th in the 10,000m (27:53.51). Disi ended the year with gold in the Francophone Games 10,000m and bronze in the 5000m where, unimpressed that the organisers did not have his National anthem, he took the microphone and sang it himself.  He describes this as one of the proudest moments in his career to date, “This was one of my last meets of the year so I was glad after winning medals at the right time,” said Disi.
 
In 2006, Disi returned to the Spanish cross country circuit, placing 3rd in both the Haro and Valladolid meets.  In the World Cross Country, in Fukuoka, Japan, he started very fast and found himself alone at the front with a 50m lead over the chasing pack after the first 2km. He was later overhauled and, suffering from his early exertions, eventually finished 40th.  In September of 2006 Disi made his half marathon debut in Lille, clocking 61:26 for 5th position.

One month later he placed 9th in the World Road Running Championships over 20km in Debrecen and this performance made him start to think that his future lay on the roads. He travelled to Nigeria in November and placed 13th in the Obudu Mountain Race and 3rd in the Lagos half marathon. “I want to collect the title and a win for Rwanda, apart from the war that the Rwanda is known for, the medals are there but people focus on something else,” Disi  said before departing for Lagos.
 
In 2007, having once again prepared for the World Cross Country Championships in the PACE training camp in Kenya, the rapidly improving Rwandan placed 23rd in the heat of Mombasa. He was just outside the medals finishing 4th in the African Games Half Marathon in Alger but later in the year made a breakthrough performance on the track, smashing the National 10,000m record with a time of 27:22.28 in the Memorial Van Damme meeting in Brussels.  On the roads he truly progressed into a world class runner ending the season with excellent victories in the New Delhi Half Marathon, Lagos Half Marathon, Reims Half Marathon, Roanne 10k and placed 6th in a National record 59:32 in the IWorld Half Marathon Championships, in Udine, his first time under the magical one hour barrier.

In an interview with Athletics Weekly, in January 2006, the magazine reported: “It is hard for many Westerners to comprehend what confronted the then 14-year-old Dieudonne Disi in 1994. The tiny east African nation of Rwanda was in the middle of one of the most traumatic episodes of the 20th Century. In the space of 100 days, more than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis, were slaughtered in a mass genocide perpetrated by the majority race, the Hutus.

“Disi, a Tutsi, lived in fear of his life. So, to escape almost certain death, he hid in the garden while witnessing the murder of his mother. He was then forced to endure a terrifyingly dangerous 50km journey on foot to safety over the Burundian border.

“Disi was born into a relatively well-to-do family with his eight brothers and two sisters in a small village in southern Rwanda. His mother and father were teachers.

“As the genocide spread the Hutus quickly descended on Disi’s home district of Ntyazo Butare. But, as Disi’s mother and father prayed, the teenager hid in fear. He explains:” As my family was busy praying, I sneaked away and went to hide behind a huge flower in our garden. My mother was the first to be killed and I was watching from where I was hiding. Others were taken and killed. I hid until evening and, when it was dark I started my terrifying journey. I was alone and I knew my parents were killed as well as my eight brothers.”


Personal Bests

3000m: 8:04.85 (2004); 8:01.73i (2006)
5000m: 13:38.12 (2004)
10,000m: 27:22.28 (2007)
10k: 28:39 (2007)
20k: 57:42 (2006)
Half Marathon: 59:32 (2007)


Yearly Progression

3000m: 2004: 8:04.85; 2005: 8:13.33; 2006: 8:01.73i
5000m: 2002: 14:05.58; 2004: 13:38.12; 2005: 14:09.9; 2007: 13:47.30
10,000m: 2002: 29:56.0; 2003: 28:37.69; 2004: 28:01.34; 2005: 27:53.51; 2007: 27:22.28
Half Marathon: 2006: 61:26; 2007: 59:32


Career Highlights

2003 1st  World Military Cross Country Championships
2004   2nd      World Military Cross Country Championships
2004 18th  World Cross Country Championships (12k)
2004 4th  African Championships (10,000m)
2004  17th  Olympic Games (10,000m)
2005 3rd  Francophone Games (5000m)
2005  1st  Francophone Games (10,000m)
2005 17th  World Championships (10,000m)
2006 9th  World Road Running Championships (20km)
2007   6th       World Road Running Championships
2007   4th       All Africa Games (half marathon)
2007 23rd  World Cross Country Championships


Prepared by Bonnie Mugabe for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright  IAAF 2008.