Rwanda has revealed it is aiming to send its largest ever Paralympic team to Rio 2016.
The announcement comes off the back of support from the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee - the Agitos Foundation, which saw the Rwandan Paralympic body being one of 28 projects to receive grants from the Foundation’s first Grant Support Programme (GSP).
The GSP, which gave about €650,000 (Rwf439m) to National Paralympic Committees, International Federations and International Organisations of Sports for the Disabled for development projects, has helped Parasport in Rwanda develop across the country, while supporting an increase in trained coaches, classifiers and referees.
The fund is said to have benefited some 900 athletes.
Among them is Josphine Ngabire, who lost her right arm when she was four-years-old during the war in the Northern Province of Rwanda in 1997.
She believes sport has transformed her life and now hopes to compete at Rio 2016.
“I have chosen athletics as my Paralympic sport and now I am preparing to participate in the All African Games in Congo Brazzaville as my first international competition,” Ngabire said.
“Now my life is different than before I joined the programme.
“I am more confident and I feel included in society.
“Before I was feeling isolated and not participating in any community event.
“Now, since I joined this programme I have dreams.”
Rwanda, which sent 15 athletes to the London 2012 Paralympics, where they competed in athletics, powerlifting and sitting volleyball, is now seeing its athletes realising their talent at training camps ahead of competing at major events in the next two years.
“Over the years we’ve seen a diverse range of athletes take part in athletics,” Celestin Nzeyimana, President of the Rwandan Paralympic Committee, said.
“In 2003, the first five athletes participated in the All African Games of Abuja, Nigeria, and in 2004 Rwanda sent two wildcard athletes to the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
“At London 2012 we have seen that Rwanda has the potential to have many athletes on high level.”