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Olympics Committee eyes more athletes for Beijing The Rwanda National Olympics Committee (RNOC) has promised to assist the athletics federation to have more athletes qualify for the next Olympic Games.

The Rwanda National Olympics Committee (RNOC) has promised to assist the athletics federation to have more athletes qualify for the next Olympic Games.

So far, only two athletes, Dieudonne Disi (10.000m) and Epiphanie Nyirabarame (marathon) have qualified for the Games scheduled for August 8-24 in the Chinese city of Beijing.

The total number of Rwandan athletes certain to participate in the Beijing Games stands at just five, including the two runners, two swimmers and one in Paralympics.

But more athletes have got the chance to increase that tally at the forthcoming African Championship due on April 30 to May 5 in Ethiopia.

A team of 13 athletes (seven sponsored by RNOC and six by the local athletics federation) has been named to part in the continental championship.

Participating countries, Rwanda inclusive, will be using the event to qualify more athletes for the Olympic Games.

"We (RNOC) are working hand-in-hand with the athletics federation to make sure more athletes qualify.

"That’s why we (Olympics Committee) are sponsoring some athletes for the African championship," Thierry Ntwali, the Chef de Mission for the Beijing Games Rwandan contingent told Times Sport yesterday.

He however, noted "If they don’t qualify (in Ethiopia), we shall enter them in others competitions as away of giving them further chances of qualifying. We want to have a big squad".

Rwanda’s chances of taking a considerable team for the Olympics were dealt a major blow after boxers failed to make it at the last qualifying event in Windhoek, Namibia and cyclists were denied a wildcard.

The Paralympics Committee also has the chance to have more athletes qualify for the Paralympics Games at the World Paralympics Championship in Manchester City of United Kingdom in June.

Rwanda’s only medal (bronze) in Olympic Games came in Paralympics at the 2004 Athens Games when Jean de Dieu Nkundabera finished third in 800m.

And if no more athletes manage to qualify, five would be the smallest number Rwanda has ever taken for the Olympic Games in recent times.

Ntwali further noted that the Olympics Committee has worked out a plan that would see the preparation work divided equally between them and the respective federations whose athletes have qualified or will have qualified for the Games.

He said, "We have reached a common agreement with the federations that they should cater for the residential training for the athletes and the Olympics Committee will cater for their participation in competitions".

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