You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a top-notch researcher to realize that Rwanda is developing at a rapid pace in many areas yet while Rwandan sport has taken some strides in the right direction, some (sports) disciplines are retrogressing in equal measure. Chief among the declining disciplines is athletics which is crying out loud for a dose of clear leadership and professionalism in order to be able to produce another Dieudonne Disi (now retired). Disi, a two-time Jeux de la Francophonie 10,000-meter gold medallist is probably the biggest celebrated figure in Rwandan athletics. Finding a suitable replacement since he hung up his running boots has proven to be a complex task. Rwandan athletics, once a promising force in long-distance running, has indeed faced challenges in recent years, leading to a decline in its competitive status. Several factors contributed to this decline, including changes in the federation's top leadership, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of investment in the sport. To regain its competitive edge and produce athletes who can challenge Kenyans, Ugandans, and Ethiopians, the Rwanda Athletics Federation must get back to the drawing board and start doing the basics as it used to be. The federation should focus on identifying and nurturing young talents—this can be achieved through school competitions. This process can begin in schools but it should also extend to communities and regions across the country. Identifying potential athletes with the right physical attributes and providing them with the necessary resources and coaching is crucial. Former top athletes like Disi can play a pivotal role in mentoring and guiding the next generation of runners. These mentors can provide insights, share their experiences, and offer valuable advice to young athletes, helping them reach their full potential. Besides, the success of Kenyan, Ugandan, and Ethiopian athletes can be attributed to their rigorous and long-standing tradition of distance running. They have developed proven training methods that emphasize high-altitude training, and intensive coaching and most importantly they have connections to a wide network of international scouts or managers and agents. To compete with them, Rwanda needs to adopt similar traits. Rwanda Athletics Federation, currently headed by Lt. Col. (Rtd) Lamuel Kayumba, should establish a deliberate schools’ programme and local competitions that encourage youth participation. Rwanda has the geographical advantage of high-altitude regions. These areas are suitable for high-altitude training, which is essential for long-distance runners. We can learn from Kenya’s renowned Iten, a town in Elgeyo-Marakwet County in Kenya. Sitting on the edge of the Rift Valley at 8,000 feet above sea level, Iten is famous for producing champion athletes such that it is now referred to as a Mecca for potential running champions. Investing in and establishing high-altitude training facilities in places like Gisenyi, Musanze, and Karongi, will provide local athletes with a competitive advantage and attract international talent looking for high-altitude training locations. Focusing a significant portion of the Federation’s efforts on schools is indeed a strategic and effective approach to identifying and nurturing talent. Schools serve as a crucial breeding ground for future athletes. It’s in schools where young talents first emerge. By implementing robust athletics programmes in schools, the Federation can identify potential athletes at a young age, and enable them to receive specialized coaching and support early on in their development. Long-distance running often requires years of training to reach an elite level. Starting the development process in schools allows athletes to build a strong foundation and develop from a young age. Schools can provide the basic infrastructure and facilities for athletics training. Such includes tracks, coaches, and equipment. By focusing on schools, the Federation can make efficient use of existing resources. A strong emphasis on schools ensures that student-athletes receive an all-rounded education alongside their athletics development. This approach encourages both academic and athletic excellence, preparing athletes for life beyond sports. Encouraging schools to participate in athletics programmes can also engage local communities—parents, teachers, and community members often support and attend school sports events, fostering a sense of unity and pride. However, while it is crucial to focus on schools, it’s also essential to maintain a holistic approach because not all talent emerges in schools. The Federation should also implement outreach programmes to identify potential athletes from rural areas and communities where formal school systems may be limited. Collaboration with schools and educational authorities is vital. This includes creating athletics curricula, providing training for physical education teachers, and ensuring schools have adequate facilities. When we were growing up, almost every school had a playground and physical education was compulsory. But this is no more, and the results or the lack of it are there for everyone to see. To maximize the potential of school-based talent, the Federation should invest in high-quality coaching—and then deploy these coaches with expertise in long-distance running in the different schools. To develop elite athletes, young talents need exposure to international competitions. The Federation should organize and sponsor trips for promising athletes to compete in regional and international races, allowing them to gain experience and confidence. This is possible and doable after all. No one is reinventing the wheel — it has been done in the past and can be done, again, if Rwanda is going to produce another Disi, Gervais Hakizimana and many more. While producing another leading long-distance runner like Disi is a challenge for Rwanda, it is not insurmountable. By implementing a comprehensive strategy that focuses on talent identification, development, and long-term investment, the Federation can groom a new generation of athletes capable of carrying the torch. Developing a top long-distance runner takes time and patience. Therefore, the Federation and stakeholders should have a long-term vision and be willing to invest for the future, even if immediate results are not forthcoming. This may sound far-fetched and somehow expensive, and long-term. But at the end of the day, we all know good things come to those who wait. Rome wasn’t built in one day!