Out of the team of 16 players, only one, Solange Gashagaza Ingabire won a medal at the just concluded 15th Senior African Karate Championship in Senegal.
The 20-year-old Ingabire, a senior six leaver from ES Sumba in Nyamagabe District, raised the country’s flag on the medals’ podium after subduing an opponent from Congo Brazzaville to win bronze on Saturday.
“Solange really did a great job to win a bronze medal,” said the national karate federation technical director Guy Didier Rurangayire.
Ingabire, who tussled it out against several opponents in the under 68kg category, among others, beat one from Mozambique, but was subdued by an Egyptian in the semi-finals. In Africa, Egypt is ranked first, while Rwanda is at number nine.
After the national team failed to win medals in the Kata contest at the start of the tournament, on Thursday, Rwanda’s hope for medals rested in the hands of Kumite [fighting] players.
Kata is display of a set sequence of moves in a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents.
Ingabire said: “I am so happy. When I return home, I am going to intensify my training. I have to win gold next time.”
Meanwhile, the team’s vice captain, Vanelly Ngarambe, 21, stunned spectators after his rare 30 seconds win (8:0 points) over an adversary from Guinea-Conakry in the opening stages.
Ngarambe also beat a Libyan on 9:0 points but in the semi-finals, he bowed out against Egypt (1:3) and a Cameroonian (0:1) to lose out on bronze medal. A Kumite match lasts three minutes only.