Rwanda has been credited as one of the countries where athletics is flourishing.
Over the last decade, the sport has produced some elite runners like Disi Dieudonne, Claudette Mukasakindi and Epiphanie Nyirabarame among others.
However, for the past four years, new promising prodigies have surfaced, including the likes of Salome Nyirarukundo, Beatha Nishimwe and Jean Marie Vianney Myasiro, who have proved they could be Rwanda’s future stars in the sport.
In this issue of Saturday Sports Magazine, Geoffrey Asiimwe profiles 19-year old Myasiro, who came to the limelight after competing in the men’s 10,000m at the 2016 IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The Mountain Classic Athletics Club runner rose to fame last month after breaking a 12-year old U-20 national record in Bydgoszcz and afterwards gave one of the most memorable interviews on an international platform.
The youngster finished 11th out of the 34 athletes, clocking 29:26:16 hence breaking the record of 29:35:41 that was set by Valence Bivahagumye in 2004 in Italy in a similar event.
Born on January 1, 1997, in Gitwe village, Cyangombe cell, Busanze sector in Nyaruguru district, Southern Province to Jean Rwasamanzi and Francine Bihoyiki, Myasiro is the last born and the only boy in the family of seven.
He attended Ecole Primary Gitwe before joining Groupe Scholaire Masiiga still in Nyaruguru district for his Ordinary level and completed it in 2012.
In 2013, he joined Ecole Secondaire Mutima in Nyanza district for advanced level studies and pursued Mathematics Economics and Geography (MEG). After one year, he switched to Saint Jean Bosco Isimbi in Huye District where he completed his A-level last year.
Myasiro, a diehard fan of Rayon Sports plans to continue juggling his athletics career and studies.
It was never his dream to become a professional athlete. His childhood sport was football and according to him, he used to play on the right wing for both his primary and ordinary level schools.
“I was never a fan of athletics in my childhood; as a staunch catholic I considered the athletics attire as a form of exhibiting one’s nudity,” he said.
He added that: “I believe if I had got good mentorship, I would have become a good footballer because I was so good at it.”
His athletics story began in 2012 while in senior three during the inter-schools football competition. During the finals his school played against Groupe Scolaire Nyange and the school patron staked that whoever scored, would accompany the school athletics team at the Provincial level.
The school lost the game on penalties after drawing 1-1 thanks to Myasiro’s goal. This earned him a ticket to travel with the school athletics team to Huye.
“Upon reaching there, one of our athletes got injured and could not compete, the patron turned to me and asked if I could take up that spot on the team, which I reluctantly accepted but with no idea what to expect because I had never run competitively,” he revealed.
Surprisingly, Myasiro went on to finish 4th in the 5,000 meters and he was selected with other three to represent the Southern Province at the national level.
The national competition took place in Nyanza and although he failed to repeat his heroics, it opened his mind about considering a career in running.
“In Nyanza, I met athletes, who were on the books of APR and Kamonyi athletics clubs, and for me, it was a like a dream to come face to face with athletes from big clubs likes APR, so it was that experience that really pushed me to consider a career in athletics,” he narrates.
In 2013, Myasiro met with a former APR athletics club runner Claude Habumugisha, who offered to sponsor him to compete in the national cross country championship. He finished 7th on his debut and he was immediately recruited by Mountain Classic Athletics Club.
After joining Mountain Classic and following his achievement in national cross country championship, Myasiro was selected along with six others to represent Rwanda at the 2014 African Cross Country Championships that were held in Kampala, Uganda.
“I did not perform well and I was very disappointed. When I returned, I started personal training in order to improve in time for the next competition.”
Again in 2014, he competed at the African Youth Games that took place in Gaborone, Botswana from May 22-31 where he competed in 3000m and finished 5th after using 8 minutes and 52 seconds, hence qualifying for the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics held in Nanjing, China, the same year. In Nanjing, the youngster set his personal best in 3000m after clocking 8:32:44 finishing 14th out the 17 athletes.
The following year, Myasiro represented Rwanda at the African Junior Athletics Championships that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he finished 17th in 10,000m, using 31:55.
Early this year, he competed at the East Africa Junior Athletics Championship in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania from April 29-30 and also set his second personal best record in 5,000m after clocking 14:46.56. Last month, he broke the national U-20 record in 10,000 meters that had stood since 2004; an achievement he believes will inspire him to go for more records.
Best and worst moments
He says his best moment was the first time; he boarded a plane to Botswana for the Africa Youth Games. “I did not get any sleep the night before because I could not believe it and my worst moment was in Ethiopia in 2015, I had prepared myself well for this competition hoping to win a medal but due to bad weather, I could not.”
“My target is to become Rwanda’s best athlete of all time and break and set more records at the senior level, I need to be held in the same category as the likes of Disi Dieudonne. I also want to win a medal at a major international event,” he stated.
What others say about him
“He is a real talent with all abilities to reach higher targets, I have known him since 2014 and he is improving on a fast rate, I hope he will be a big asset for Rwanda in the coming years,” National junior team head coach Anicet Kanyabugoyi says of the 19-year-old.