Rwanda's medal chances very slim, says cycling coach Magnell


Rwandan elite female cyslist Jeanne d'Arc Girubuntu is expected to be part of the team for the Commonwealth Games. Sam Ngendahimana

TEAM Rwanda Cycling coach Sterling Magnell is hoping for an impressive performance from his team at the forthcoming XXI Commonwealth Games slated for April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Rwanda will be represented by an 18-athlete team, including nine cyclists (six males and three females) at the 21st edition of the quadrennial international event.

Apart from cycling, Rwanda will also field athletes in athletics, beach volleyball and power-lifting.

Nonetheless, Magnell says that local cyclists still have a long way to go before reaching the level of winning medals in global events such as the Commonwealth Games.

In an interview with Times Sport, the American-born trainer admitted that, “Commonwealth Games is a very huge event, promising medals would be premature. We are on the right path, making strong strides, but we still got a lot to learn and have a long way to go before we can set eyes on medals.”

“The Commonwealth Games are almost at the same level as World Championships or Olympic Games, if one can win a medal there, it means you are able to win medals in any world-class competition. We will be in Australia to get experience and to assess ourselves against the world’s best cyclists.”

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Rwanda was represented by six male riders and none of them could finish the main men’s road race. Of the 120 on the start-list of the 168.2km race, only 12 cyclists were able to reach the finish line.

“Besides winning medals, there are various indicators to track progress and one of them is to make improvement on the previous performance. It is also important to note that Gold Coast is predominantly flat and windy, which doesn’t favour our cyclists who are used to hilly terrains,” Magnell explained.

After a strong performance at the just-concluded African Continental Road Championships in Kigali, Team Rwanda will be looking to maintain their fine form heading into the Commonwealth Games.

Star rider Joseph Areruya, Africa’s highest ranked rider and the reigning Tour du Rwanda and La Tropicale Amissa Bongo champion, will be among the riders representing Rwanda.

The international multi-sport event will attract over 6600 athletes from 70 countries and territories, vying for medals in 18 sports and 270 medal events.

Rwanda made her Commonwealth Games in 2010 in New Delhi, India where it was represented by 22 athletes.