Former Team Rwanda cyclist Nathan Byukusenge has tipped 17-year-old upcoming rider Eric Nzafashwanayo to impress when he makes his international debut at the forthcoming 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games.
The prestigious quadrennial event is scheduled for July 19-23 in Nassau, Bahamas. This will be Rwanda’s first appearance at the youth event since joining the Commonwealth in 2009, despite being regular participants in the Commonwealth Games (for seniors) since 2010.
Rwanda will compete in three disciplines namely; tennis, beach volleyball (women) and cycling.
In cycling, Rwanda’s flag will be carried by Club Benediction’s junior rider Nzafashwanayo, who is currently in a training camp at Africa Rising Cycling Center (ARCC) in Musanze District together with Team Rwanda riders, who are preparing ahead of the highly anticipated US tour.
Nzafashwanayo, under the guidance of Byukusenge, will compete in both Individual Time Trial (ITT) and road race.
Byukusenge, 35, who retired at the end of last season, has tipped the young rider to emulate his senior compatriots and make a memorable international debut.
“We are nurturing a number of young riders that will replace the senior ones in the near future and such an event (Commonwealth Youth Games) is a good opportunity for one of our riders to taste the intensity of international competition,” Byukusenge told Times Sport.
He added: “Eric is one of the best talents we have and being able to participate in these games will give him valuable experience for his development. Despite the lack of international experience, I believe he can challenge for a medal like his compatriots did previously.”
In March, Eric Habimana, one of Team Rwanda’s first-rising juniors along with Didier Munyaneza debuted at the African Continental Track Championships that were held in Durban, South Africa.
The former made history by scooping three medals including two silver medals and a bronze medal.
Last month, UCI Continental Team Dimension Data’s Joseph Areruya while on his debut at Giro d’Italia became the first Rwandan rider to win a stage on European UCI race. He won stage 5 hence also marking Dimension Data All-African Continental Team’s first victory outside the continent. Meanwhile, in Nassau, Rwanda will also be represented by 18-year-old Ernest Habiyambere in tennis and the pair of Penelope Musabyimana and Valentine Munezero will compete in women beach volleyball. Rwanda’s delegation is set to jet off on Monday.
The Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) is an international multi-sport event organised by the Commonwealth Games Federation. The games are held every four years with the current Commonwealth Games format and age limitation at 14 to 18 years.