RWANDA National Olympic Committee (RNOC) president Robert Bayigamba says this year’s Africa Youth Games in Gaborone, Botswana will serve as Rwanda’s springboard for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Speaking to Times Sport in an exclusive interview yesterday, Bayigamba said that next month’s games are in line with the local Olympic committee’s theme – “Build Generations of Champions”.
“We are taking 48 athletes (29 female and 19 male) and all these athletes were picked on merit. This is an opportunity for young athletes to compete at the high level,” he said.
Bayigamba added, “This will also serve as a foundation for us as we look forward to 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as well as Tokyo 2020.”
“Its events like these (Gaborone) that will be a springboard for the future of sports in Rwanda. We hope we can make better use of the Gaborone Games to prepare our athletes for Rio and Tokyo,” added the former Sports minister.
The Gaborone Games, scheduled for May 22-31, will attract around 4,000 athletes from all the 54 African countries in more than 14 sports disciplines.
Rwanda’s athletes will compete in 12 sporting disciplines namely; athletics, basketball (3 on 3), boxing, cycling, fencing, golf, karate, lawn tennis, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo and volleyball.
The athletes have been training in their respective groups since February and will join residential camp for the final touches on May 12, four days before leaving for Gaborone.
This is the first time Rwanda will be taking part in the continental youth games which have also been set as a platform for the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) due in Nanjing, China from August 16-28.
The African Youth Games is an international multi-sport event held every four years to complement the current All Africa Games. The first games were hosted by Rabat, Morocco in 2010.
Athletics: James Sugira (3000m, 1500m), Jean de la Croix Mukundente (800m), Jean Damascène Tuyizere (800m, 1500m), Jean Marie Vianney Myasiro (3000m, 5000m), Sifa Ingabire (800m), Venantie Mukandayisenga (1500m), Salome Nyirarukundo (3000m) and Rosette Twambazimana (5000m)
Basketball: Nadine Rutagengwa, Odette Jordan Umuhoza, Martine Umuhoza and Better Umutoni
Boxing: Jean Pierre Cyuzuzo (light weight-64kg)
Cycling: Clémentine Niyonsaba and Benitha Uwamariyaka (girls’ road race), Omar Nizeyimana, Ephrem Tuyishimire and Samuel Hakiruwizeye (boys’ team time trial) and Joseph Areruya (road race),
Fencing: Ange Nisingizwe (Epée individual)
Golf: Aaron Taylor Koonce (individual)
Karate Kumite: Sakina Cyuzuzo (48kg), Razia Uwase (53kg), David Fils Niyongabo (55kg) and Regis Katabarwa (61kg).
Tennis: Ernest Habiyambere (boys singles) and Oliva Tuyisenge (girls singles)
Swimming: Isiaka Iradukunda (50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke & 50m freestyle) and Alphonsine Agahozo (50m freestyle & 50m breast stroke).
Table Tennis: Regis François Ishimwe and Assoumpta Isimbi Kamanda
Taekwondo: Delphine Uwababyeyi (44kg), Clarisse Uwayo (49kg), Emmanuel Kwibuka & Vincent Munyakazi (55kg) and Emmanuel Twagiramungu (63kg)
Volleyball: Laurette Higiro, Deborah Impanoyimana, Demitrie Muhimpundu, Seraphine Mukantambara, Pascaline Mukashyaka, Olive Mutamba, Marie Grace Niyigena, Pacifique Umulisa, Nassla Uwamahoro, Delphine Uwicyeza, Lea Uwimbabazi and Hortance Zaninka.