Nukuri Wins Wilma Rudolph Award

May 14, 2008

IOWA CITY, IA — Hawkeye senior distance runner Diane Nukuri has been awarded the 2008 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A). The annual national award is intended to honor student-athletes who have overcome great personal, academic and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics.

“This award recognizes the adversity and hardship Diane has overcome in her life,” said University of Iowa Head Women’s Track Coach Layne Anderson. “She is a great example of what can be accomplished. So many times Diane is recognized for her achievements on the track and cross country course, but people don’t always know what she has gone through to get to this point. She is a remarkable story, from start to finish, wherever the finish may be.”

Nukuri is a three-time all-American in track and cross country at Iowa. She is a two-time NCAA Midwest Region cross country champion and was one of four national finalists for the 2008 Honda Sports Award in women’s cross country. She holds all four cross country school records, as well as three outdoor school marks. The Hawkeye senior ran for her native Burundi in the 2000 Olympic Games, but has not been back since she was 16. Her father was killed during the Hutu-Tutsi conflict, leaving Nukuri’s mother to tend to the couple’s eight children. Nukuri left a war-torn Burundi to compete at the Francophone Games in Canada, after the Olympics, and persuaded an emigrant cousin to take her in. After enrolling in school and obtaining resident status in Toronto, Nukuri met Anderson who helped her enroll at Butler County Community College (KS). This was to boost her language skills and academic credentials. Nukuri excelled at Butler, winning nine NJCAA national and 11 regional titles and earning 17 all-America honors. She enrolled at the University of Iowa in the fall of 2006.

Wilma Rudolph was the first American female runner to win three gold medals during the Olympic games of 1960. She won the 100 and 200-meter dashes and anchored the 400-meter relay, earning the title of “World’s Fastest Woman”. Her performance was all the more remarkable in light of the fact she had double pneumonia and scarlet fever as a young child and could not walk without braces until age 11. The N4A is a diverse, educational service and professional nonprofit organization with approximately 550+ members. N4A members are committed to enhancing the opportunities for academic, athletic and personal success for collegiate student-athletes.

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