Don’t expect medals from Beijing-official
When the next Olympic Games get underway on Friday, August 8 in the Chinese city of Beijing, Rwanda will be there just to participate rather than winning.
Talk of breaking the jinx of having never won an Olympics medal in the mainstream Olympic Games, Rwandan athletes, as in the previous events will be there to make numbers.
The main cause for the lost hope even before the games start comes from the fact that the people responsible for preparing the athletes have persistently and or happily refused to learn from past mistakes.
That’s the view of the Chef de Mission for the Rwandan contingent to the Beijing Games, Thierry Ntwari.
"People talk of winning medals but how do you expect an athlete to achieve that minus having enough and better preparations," Ntwari wondered during an in-depth interview with Times Sport recently.
"As always, we are doing things at the last minute and what do you expect from it? Nothing, he stressed.
Rwanda faces the prospect sending the smallest number of participants in her history at the Beijing Games and Ntwari acknowledges the impact it could have on the next Games in 2012 in London.
Until this moment, two athletes, two swimmers and one Paralympics athletes have qualified but more athletes have the chance to increase that number between now and July.
Dieudonne Disi (10.000m) and Epiphanie Nyirabarame (Women Marathon), Pamela Girimbabazi and either Aimable Habimana or will make the swimmers team and Jean de Dieu Nkundabera (Paralympics 800m) have already booked their places.
A team of 13 athletes has been dispatched to go and search for more slots at this year’s African senior athletics championships set for April 30-May 5 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Participating countries, Rwanda inclusive, will be using the event to qualify more athletes for the Olympic Games.
The National Paralympics Committee also has the chance to have more athletes qualify for the Beijing Paralympics Games at the World Paralympics Championship in Manchester City of United Kingdom in June.
Elmas Muvunyi (100m & 200m), Jean de Dieu Nkundabera (1500m) and Lysha Kwizera are the athletes likely to take part in the Manchester Paralympics championship in June hoping to secure their places on the Paralympics squad.
2004 Athens Paralympics bronze medalist, Nkundabera qualified for the Beijing Games in 800m during last year’s All Africa Games in Algeria but wants to secure a slot in the 1500m.
Same old story
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that local athletes have not received anything near to the best possible preparation for the Beijing Games and the results will be there for everyone to see just as it has been the case in the past.
All this is because the people responsible for preparing the athletes don’t seem to learn from past mistakes and the trend is likely continue unless the situation is arrested sooner rather than later.
Remember these people have four years to put in place a better team for the next Olympics but here people are madly in love with doing things at the very last minute, to put it in the words of Ntwari, there is a ‘last minute.com syndrome’ amongst local sports administrators.
Chef de Mission targets better image However, not to be overdone, on and off the track, Rwanda’s team Chef de Mission, helped by the size (small) of contingent, hopes to make Team Rwanda one of the best at least off the field.
"I am doing everything possible to see that at least, we look smart on and off the field, make all the necessary reservations in time.
"My target is to make sure that the Rwandan team is different this time round that it has been in the past. I am looking at us giving Rwanda a better image out there," he stated. Rwanda’s chances of taking a considerable team for the Olympics were dealt a major blow after boxers failed to make it at the last qualifying event in Windhoek, Namibia and cyclists were denied a wildcard.