Former long-distance and cross country runner Dieudonné Disi has said adequate and early preparations will help the country break the medal jinx at the Olympic Games due in Rio, Brazil in August this year.
Four years ago, Rwanda competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; this was the nation's eighth consecutive appearance at the Olympics. The team was the largest ever sent to the Games, a total of 7 athletes, 5 men and 2 women competed in 4 sports.
In an exclusive interview with Times Sport, Disi, who competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the Beijing Games in 2008, offered some insight into what makes an Olympic winner, and cited some of the reasons behind the nation’s poor performance.
Disi, probably Rwanda’s greatest long distance runner, blamed both the local athletics federation (RAF) and the Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee (RNOSC) for the athletes’ poor performance.
He said, “Both bodies, it seems lack the will and commitment to invest in the sport, they need to work with former athletes in terms of planning, exchange and sharing of ideas. They have a problem when it comes to sponsoring athletes to prepare earlier ahead of the Games.”
The 36-year- old said some professional athletes are interested in representing the nation but due to lack of collaboration with the responsible bodies back at home, they resort to personal programmes.
“This implies RAF and RNOSC are left with no option but to send those in Kigali. If you start preparing just months towards the Olympic Games, that is technically a failure! You can’t fully attain sufficient preparation, whether physically or mentally to be on the same footing with the other competitors.
We have qualified coaches and technical staff but they don’t have the commitment, they have other priorities; going to work in other places,” Disi lamented.
Rwanda has not won any Olympic medal. Yet regional countries like Uganda have a least won 7 medals, Kenyan athletes have won 86 in total and 56 medals from long-distance events.
The question of lack of Olympic medals is as frequently asked as it is difficult to answer.
“Therefore, if we are to break our Olympic medal jinx, we need to put certain things right, like quality and early preparations as the top priority, once the right things are put in place I’m certain we will excel at the Olympics,” says former APR Athletics Club runner.