National team rider Adrien Niyonshuti has said he is honoured and ready to raise Rwanda’s flag at the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The South Africa-based Team Dimension Data rider will compete in the men’s road race cluster for the first time and it will be the second Olympics for the 29-year-old cyclist. He made his debut as flag bearer at the 2012 Olympics in London when he competed in the cross-country mountain bike race.
“This will be my second Olympic Games; it’s a special feeling and honour to be selected as a flag bearer for my country. This is what drives me and everything I do. I am training hard and I think we’re all ready for Rio,” he said in an exclusive interview with Times Sport.
He added that his aim is to finish the race, adding that it is always a proud moment to put on a Team Rwanda jersey and the Olympic Games is extra special.
Niyonshuti will be joined by teammate Nathan Byukusenge, who qualified for the XCO Mountain Bike race in Rio.
In a separate interview, Africa Rising Cycling Centre technical director Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer said Niyonshuti’s main mission is to finish the difficult race which is expected to have ocean winds and a flat 250 km distance.
“Adrien’s main objective is to finish the race, and his experience has shown he can do it. If he does, it will be a milestone and another piece of history because he will be the first African cyclist to finish an Olympic road race,” Jock explained.
The Rwamagana-born rider finished 39th at the London Games, becoming the first black African to compete in the mountain bike race at the Olympics.
According to Elie Manirarora, the Chef de Mission for Team Rwanda at the Rio Olympics, the first Rwandan delegation will depart for Rio on July 28. It will include swimmers; Eloi Imaniraguha (50m freestyle) and Johanna Umurungi (100m breaststroke).
The second team of athletes Claudette Mukasakindi (Full Marathon) and Salome Nyirarukundo (10,000m) will leave Kigali on August 8, while Jean Baptiste Simukeka and Ambroise Uwiragiye (Full Marathon) will travel on August 15.
Cyclists Byukusenge and Niyonshuti will leave for Rio on August 3and August 14 respectively. Team Rwanda delegation will be composed of 16 people in total.