Rwanda Paralympics team was in the wee hours of this morning scheduled to take a flight en route to Rio in Brazil where they will take part in the 2016 Paralympics Games scheduled for September 7-18.
The team was expected to leave the country aboard an Ethiopian Airways flight at around 1a.m.
The delegation, composed of 18 people, includes the national women sitting volleyball team (12 players) that will represent the African continent at the summer Games and the country’s most decorated Paralympian, Hermas Cliff Muvunyi, who will compete in the Men’s 400m and 1500m T-46 events.
Keen to impress at their historic debut, the sitting volleyball team left after a 10-day last warm-up training camp in the capital Kigali having earlier held various training camps in Slovakia, the Netherlands and China.
According to team’s assistant coach Jean Marie Nsengiyumva, the team is ready to impress at the world’s biggest sporting event for athletes with physical disabilities.
“We have prepared for this event in every possible way, our game has really improved since the day we qualified due to the different competitions and training camps we were involved in and I hope we are in a position to challenge any opponent,” Nsegiyumva told Times Sport.
Rwanda is drawn in group B alongside the top two ranked teams, China (1) and US (2), as well as Iran while hosts and world No.4 Brazil are in Pool A, together with Ukraine, Canada and Russia.
Meanwhile, for former world champion Muvunyi, who is the team captain and Rwanda’s top prospect for a medal, this will be his second Paralympics appearance having also featured at the 2012 London Paralympics.
The 28-year old, with several international medals under his belt, is set to retire at the end of the Rio Games. He recently told this paper: “I have had very good preparations and I think I have made significant improvement since I made my Paralympics Games debut in London in 2012. I think I have about 70 percent chances of winning a medal in Rio. A bronze or silver is not bad but gold is my ultimate target.”
The Rwandan Rio delegation will link up with Paralympics volleyball Dutch head coach Peter Karreman in Brazil.