Swimming federation left with a tough decision to make

Issiak Bebeto Irankunda is seen here during a past swimming championship in Thailand. Courtesy.

The national swimming federation is in suspense, and with a tough decision to make, as far as preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are concerned.

This follows a controversy from one swimmer Issiak ‘Bebeto’ Irankunda who has abruptly decided to drop out halfway his swimming scholarship programme in Thailand.

Irankunda, who carried the country’s hopes for a qualification to Olympic Games next year, was pursuing a four-year swimming course, since late 2017, at Tanyapura Sports Resort, one of the finest aquatic and swimming training centres in the world.

Speaking to Times Sport on Wednesday, Samuel Ufitimana Kinimba, the president of Rwanda Swimming Federation, admitted to that the swimming body is frustrated by the swimmer’s decision to quit despite the investments in the programme over the last two years.

This publication understands that Irankunda has complained that ‘the programme is too exhausting’ and could not handle it any longer.

Tanyapura Sports Resort boosts of world class facilities that makes it the training camp of choice for many top swimming stars, teams and coaches in the world.

“Bebeto [Irankunda] came home in January for a one-month break, and was supposed to report back in February. However, he has since declined to go back, arguing that he could not take it anymore,” said Ufitimana.

Kinimba says that this is a disappointment and huge loss considering the investments and progress the swimmer had made towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

“We had placed our faith and hope in him, and he was close to qualifying for the Olympics. We are frustrated that the funders are also going to lose confidence in us,” he bitterly explained.

In 2016, Rwanda received an invite from the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to send two participants; Eloi Imaniraguha and Johanna Umurungi, in the men’s 50m freestyle and women’s 100m butterfly, respectively, at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Jackson Niyomugabo and Alphonsine Agahozo also participated on wild cards from the world swimming governing body, but did not manage to advance from the first round.