GABORONE – The national cycling team had their medal hope brushed aside as poor organisation marred the Team Time Trial race held yesterday in Gaborone, Botswana.
The boys’ team of Samuel Hakiruwizeye, Ephrem Tuyishimire, Joseph Aleluya and Omar Nizeyimana finished a frustrating fourth position, three minutes out of the medal bracket.
They clocked 42 minutes, twenty six seconds and five micro seconds to come behind winners South Africa who won the 34km race in 39:21:3; Morocco finished second in 40:02:3 while Algeria took bronze medal spot in 40:53:8.
The team time was held in three phases with each phase having four nations. Rwanda was flagged first in the last phase which had South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Morocco.
They exhibited a tactical brilliant race over 10km but at the start of the 20km; a Police car forced them off the competition route before diverting back after 500m. The same car which was travelling ahead of them caused a disruption at a roundabout, a feat which cost them valuable minutes which could have placed Rwanda on the podium for the first time in history.
As they crossed the finish line still ahead, the youngsters were shedding tears well knowing a podium finish would be difficult to secure following the Police car hindrance.
“We had a very good chance to win a medal but all I can say is that this was not our day. We have to put the blame on the organisers. I am going to lift the morale of my players to see if we can still fight for silverware in the remaining races,” a disappointed head coach Jean Baptista Rugambwa told Times Sport after the event,
The competition manager Shaban Mohamed from Ghana consoled Team Rwanda, saying, “We are all human beings, however much we try to make things right, there are some instances which just occur unplanned. I know you are very sad but be positive because you have a bright future,”
“You have a very good team and I believe in a few years to come, Rwanda will be a cycling hub in Africa. Forget what happened today and put focus on the remaining events, I believe you can still grab a medal because it’s a few teams which can much your brilliance,” added Mohamed.
Team Rwanda returns to the road on Tuesday when they will be competing in the Individual Time Trial in both boys and girls categories as well as road race on Thursday.
Paul Bitok’s U-18 girls’ team bounced back with a bang to revive their title hopes as they beat hosts Botswana 3-0 in Molepolole. They registered 25-10, 25-15 and 25-11 win to secure their first victory in this tournament. Kenya who beat Rwanda 3-2 on Saturday, were beaten by Egypt 3-0 yesterday.
Action continues today with Rwanda facing South Africa at 13.00; Botswana taking on Egypt at 11.00 while Mauritius will face Nigeria at 15.00.
The national 3*3 team suffered a painful day as they lost heavily to Mali 1-18 and Mozambique 2-18. They face Algeria today.
Alphonsine Agahozo ended her campaign on a poor note finishing 12th out of 22 in the 100m breaststroke. She clocked one minute, twenty seven seconds and twenty one micro seconds.