[LETTERS] How Rwanda can win its first major sports medal by 2020

Editor, Rwanda is my favourite land – I’m impressed by how the government handled post-Genocide reconciliation and unity issues, and I am at a loss of words about the country’s development, its cleanness and well organised people.

Editor,

Rwanda is my favourite land – I’m impressed by how the government handled post-Genocide reconciliation and unity issues, and I am at a loss of words about the country’s development, its cleanness and well organised people.

I met some Rwandans through my work and I see a stark resemblance with my people (Ethiopians) and culture. And because of that and more, I constantly follow Rwandan news as much as I can.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon the journey of Rwanda through Olympics. I did learn Rwanda started Olympics 30 years, late than Ethiopia. And when you come late to a competition, it is always a disadvantage for you. It is like starting school in mid-semester. You can catch up by making up for the lost classes, but that part of the mind – which becomes insecure what is covered or not – sucks the energy out of you and in return destructs you from focusing 100 per cent.

So my suggestion would be for Rwanda to invest in the most affordable sports disciplines like athletics as we did in Ethiopia. In my country, athletes do most of the work by themselves until they will be discovered.

What made our individual athletes go through all trouble? It is simple answer: To win us our first medal in the Olympics. Ethiopia got its first Olympics medal when the world expected the least from us back then, thanks to Abebe Bikila – who later became the world’s greatest marathon runner ever.

Up till now, Ethiopian athletes win trophies at every Olympics.

If Rwanda made the right decisions regarding athletics, the country would surely start to reap as early as 2020. The country might be in position to win medals in the sport by then. But it needs commitment from everyone involved, someone has got to make it a point to ensure that the country wins its first medal by 2020 – by hook or crook.

That can be achieved, for instance, by sanding your athletes to Ethiopia for intensive training, or bringing in as many coaches as possible from Ethiopia to help nurture and train local talent. Ethiopia coaches are from largely old school. You do that and you are guaranteed a medal in a few years time.

Signing mutual cooperation with Ethiopia is good but not enough. What works for Rwanda needs to actively be shared with Ethiopia and vice versa.

Mitiku Assefa

 

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