27 year old Hermas Muvunyi in 2013 became the first Rwandan to win gold in the 800m T-46 at the IPC-Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, two years later he won another gold in the 400m T-46 at the All Africa Games in Brazzaville.
In March this year, he won gold medals in both the 400 and 800 meters at the 9th IPC Grand Prix de Tunis. Muvunyi’s last gold medal came in July in the 1500 meter T-46 during the Berlin Open Grand Prix in Germany after clocking four minutes and 14 seconds.
Sharon Kantengwa talked to the Kamonyi-born athlete on his ability to ‘shine’ in sports despite his disability.
What inspired you to join Athletics despite being disabled?
I have been running for past 15 years, I started at the age of 12. I became disabled at a young age when I got an accident while playing football. I later on developed passion for running and started investing a lot of time, money and effort in my trainings. The physical disability became less of a burden with more training.
Running is such a simple sport, that you can do anywhere and it requires very little equipment, so I’ve never found it hard to incorporate running into my day. The fact that I’m passionate about it and recognize its importance to my overall well-being helps me to be efficient and prioritize it.
So how has it impacted on your life?
It has taught me to be patient and work hard, because I know that fitness doesn’t happen overnight and it can take years to get fast. Running has really helped my confidence and made me believe in myself a lot more.
Why did you choose to quit when you were at the peak of your career?
I am receiving a lot of feedback from fans who are requesting me not to quit. However, I haven’t yet confirmed my retirement because I still feel young. I intend to pursue my studies and I feel that I need to concentrate more on them. When my mentor comes back to the country, we will be able to discuss if I am capable of balancing both.
After my studies, I want to be able to coach young athletes to be successful.
What lessons have you learnt in your career?
I have been able to meet so many different people and have learnt from them. I’ve been fortunate throughout my athletic career to meet, train and race with some of the best endurance athletes in the world.
What challenges have you dealt with?
The biggest challenge I have faced is the poor communication mainly from the National Paralympics committee because I’m not told when to train and prepare prior to any competition. Also the rewards that I earn from the competition are sometimes not worth the amount of money and time that I invested in during training.
What advice do you have for young athletes who would want to be elite runners?
It’s important for them to be disciplined all the time. Also this kind of sport demands passion and consistency. I advise every athlete, disabled and able bodies the same thing: Be yourself and try to be as independent as possible because as we get older, life becomes tougher.Follow https://twitter.com/SharonKMugabo