Retired swimmer Pamela Girimbabazi has been elected president of the local swimming governing body, becoming the first woman to head a sports federation in Rwanda.
The 35-year-old replaces Samuel Kinimba Ufitimana who stepped down last month after serving two terms in office – since 2012.
The former swimming star represented the country three times in the Olympic Games – the only swimmer to ever do so – between 2004 and 2008 before retiring in the early 2010s.
During her competitive swimming career, Girimbabazi was widely described as a ‘minor celebrity’ and icon for pure sports spirit.
Due to lack of standard preparations and a regular coach, Girimbabazi was disqualified during the 2020 Sydney Olympics in Australia because of technical rules that she was unaware of.
At the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, she finished 48th in women’s 100m breaststroke after clocking 1:50:39 before switching to 50m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games where she used 39 seconds and 78 microseconds to finish in 88th position.
The newly elected committee start their four-year mandate with a task to qualify Rwandan swimmers to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled for July 24 to August 9, in Japan.
By press time Wednesday, only two Rwandans – both in athletics – John Hakizimana and Félicien Muhitira had secured their Olympics tickets in men’s full-marathon.
Rwanda has been represented at each of the Olympics’ last ten editions since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, the United States.
Besides Girimbabazi as head of the new executive committee, Jean Saveur Uwitonze was elected as the first vice president, Innocent Uzabakiriho is the second vice president, James Bazatsinda is the secretary-general while Chantal Mushimiyimana is now the treasurer.