Rwanda’s Paralympic hero Jean de Dieu Nkundabera has argued Paralympians going to represent the country at the 2016 Rio Games to do their best and end a 12-year medal drought since Rwanda won her first ever Paralympic or Olympic medal.
The 15th Summer Paralympics are slated for September 7-18 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Rwanda will be represented by athlete Hermas Cliff Muvunyi in the men’s 400m and 1500m T46 races and the national women’s sitting volleyball team that will be the first African team to compete at the quadrennial event.
Since making her Paralympic debut in 2000 in Sydney; Australia, Rwanda has won only one medal (Bronze) in the history of both Paralympics and Olympics, and that was through Nkundabera at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, in the Men’s 800m T46.
Despite competing both in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympics and Olympics, Rwandan athletes have failed to emulate Nkudabera’s success.
In exclusive interview with Sunday Sport, the retired athlete, strongly tipped Muvunyi to end the medal drought by winning something in one of his two races, but especially the Men’s 400m T46 which he thinks is his favourite.
“A Paralympic medal is worth dying for, you have to dedicate yourself for the love of your country and compete as if it’s your last day, it never comes easy, however I think we have a chance with Muvunyi who has been a world champion, I hope he can win a medal,” said Nkudabera.
Muvunyi competed in the 2012 London Olympics in 400m finishing fifth before competing at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon his most important sporting moment when he set his personal best of 1:54:04 in 800m on the way to winning a gold medal.
Nkundabera added that, “This is his best time to make history and I feel confident he will achieve it, but for the Sitting volleyball, it will be very hard for them against the world’s best teams.”
The Paralympic team (Muvunyi and women sitting volleyball) is in residential training, putting final touches on their preparations ahead of their departure for Rio on August 30.