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Issiak Irankunda: Top Rwandan swimmer lands FINA scholarship

Issiak ‘Bebeto’ Irankunda during a past competition. Courtesy.

Rwanda’s top swimmer Issiak Bebeto Irankunda has been awarded a one-year scholarship by the world swimming governing body (FINA) to train at the High-Performance Swimming Centre in Dakar, Senegal.

The scholarship programme is in line with FINA’s policy on development and universality for its member associations across the world.


Irankunda, 22, is the reigning national champion in butterfly and breaststroke categories.


The scholarship follows the swimmer’s impressive performance at the 2018 Thailand Short Course Swimming Championships where he struck two bronze medals; in men’s 100m butterfly and 50m breaststroke contests after clocking 58:24 and 26:28, respectively. 


Irankunda also previously benefited from a FINA scholarship at the Thailand-based Tanyapura Sports Resort, one of the best aquatic and swimming training centres in the world. However, he dropped out of the programme half-way. 

He will be part of the Rwandan contingent at the upcoming regional swimming championships (CANA III 2019) in Kenya later this month.

Speaking to Times Sport, Irankunda said that he was thrilled by the opportunity to take his swimming to a new level and looked forward to make the most of it under highly qualified trainers and high standard facilities.

“I can’t wait to start the training. I am excited and I look forward to making the most out of the programme. This is a good opportunity to develop my swimming to a new level,” he said.

In a separate interview, Samuel Ufitimana, the president of Rwanda Swimming Federation, admitted that local swimmers face a stern challenge of the lack of facilities and specialised coaches, which in the end affect how they perform in international competitions.

“They have to work extremely hard to win medals because of lack of training facilities. We are happy that FINA is now extending scholarships to our swimmers to train at high-performance centres such as the Dakar Centre.”

Irankunda is due to reported to the Dakar-based centre early December after the CANA Zone III competition in Kenya.

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