WITH exactly three years to go, World 800m Paralympic champion Hermas Cliff Muvunyi has assured the nation of winning a gold medal in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games due in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Muvunyi made the remarks on Tuesday at a reception to congratulate him for the 800m T46 gold medal victory he attained during the IPC World Athletics Championships held in Lyon, France last month.
The 24-year-old Muvunyi, flew the Rwandan flag high for the first time in the IPC world championship when he won a gold medal in 800m-T46 category running 1:54:06 to register his best personal time but was later ruled out of the men’s 400m-T46 category competition with a knee-injury.
The national champion, who was making his maiden debut appearance at the sixth IPC athletics world championship, won the first gold medal for Rwanda after beating off stiff challenge from Algeria’s Samir Nouioua, who won silver in a time of 1:55:43 while Brazilian Alex Pires claimed bronze in 1:55:45.
He said, “Winning a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro Games will be possible but the most important thing is to have early and adequate preparations. I can promise that if we have good preparations, I will again hoist the Rwandan flag,”
“I have gained experience in the past three years where I have had the best international exposure and I know what it takes to win a Paralympic gold medal. Paralympic Games are tough because they attract the best athletes and everything is possible if right preparations are ensured,”
“I request everyone, the government to help us stage successful championships. I believe the best is yet to come,” added Muvunyi.
The National Paralympic Committee chairman Celestin Nzeyimana said that Muvunyi’s international victory is a strong platform and proof that Rwanda can compete and win on global stage.
“We want to qualify more athletes for Rio 2016 athletics, powerlifting, sitting volleyball men and women teams. It is not just a dream but it’s possible,”
“The goal of NPC is to be successful and be the best among the best. Impairment exists only in the attitutde and minds of others but given the opportunity as Muvunyi has demonstrated, everything is possible,” said Nzeyimana, urging individuals and corporate companies to assist NPC meet their target goals in this quadrennial year.
The Minister of Sports and Culture who was also the chief guest, Protais Mitali thanked Muvunyi for putting the country on the world sports map.
“We want to thank Muvunyi for the heroics exhibited in winning the world athletics championship. This should motivate other athletes and national teams out there to aim for the best and work hard to become champions in their different categories,”
“We pledge our continued support in ensuring that we give the best preparations for the Paralympic movement such that they can achieve their targets and missions. I am assuring you that early and good preparations will be staged for Rio de Janiero Games such that NPC and other sports federations such that the nation can have a competitive team ready for any challenge,” added Mitali.
The APR athlete leaped Rwf 4m from the Ministry of Sports and Culture and Rwanda olympic Committee and another Rwf. 1m from the National Paralympic Committee as a token of appreciation for his heroic act.
Muvunyi’s journey to stardom started in 2011 when he snatched gold and silver medals respectively during the All African games held in Mozambique. He was the only athlete among the 112 Rwandan delegation who returned back with a smiling face after posting 50.25 in 400m and 1:56.00 in 800m T46 respectively.
From there, he sustained an injury on his right leg which never stopped him from competing in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Despite not winning any silverware, he set a record for the fastest African Paralympian in 400m after clocking 49:75secs in his maiden debut in the Olympics.
In Rio de Janeiro, Muvunyi will be seeking to be the second Rwandan to win a silverware at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Retired athlete Jean de Dieu Nkundabera remains the only Rwandan who won a Paralympic medal at the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Athens.Follow https://twitter.com/BonnieMugabe