A total of 17 athletes have been revealed to represent Rwanda at the Commonwealth Games which will be held on Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
Rwanda will be represented across different discipline at the Commonwealth Games from April 4-15 in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
While the international multi-sport event is set to attract over 6600 athletes vying for medals in 18 sports disciplines, seventeen athletes competing in four sports, namely; cycling, athletics, power lifting and beach volleyball will lead Rwanda’s hunt for silverware.
Six track and field athletes led by star athlete Salome Nyirarukundo (10,000m) will vie for gold in different athletics categories. Other athletes include; Nizeyimana Alexis (full marathon), Tuyishime Christopher, Sugira James (5000m), Nishimwe Beatha (1500m) and Ishimwe Alice (800m).
According to athletics team coach, Eric Karasira, “The athletes are undergoing intensive preparations at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali and they are all in good form and spirit ready to take part and compete for honours in this year’s Commonwealth Games,”
Rwanda’s middle and long distance runner Nyirarukundo is set to link up with the rest of the team this month after winding up his training stint in Kenya’s Eldoret.
Last month, the APR athletics club runner debuted at the 2018 Barcelona half marathon clocking one hour, 8 minutes and 48 seconds to clinch a bronze medal.
This was her first international medal in 2018 following an injury sustained during the 2017 IAAF World Championships that were held in August in London.
Nyirarukundo represented Rwanda at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Brazil where she finished 27th out of 37 competitors in women’s 10,000 metres. She clocked 32 meters 7 seconds and 80 microseconds.
Her personal best in 10,000 metres is 31:45:82, she recorded at the 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers in Durban, South Africa.
Cycling is among the medal winning disciplines earmarked to represent the country at the Commonwealth Games. Reigning champion of Tour du Rwanda, Tour de l’Espoir and La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, Joseph Areruya will lead an 8-man cycling team which lead Rwanda’s campaign in GoldCoast.
Areruya will vie for honours alongside 2014 Tour du Rwanda winner Ndayisenga Valens, Ukiniwabo Jean Paul rene, Uwizeye Jean Claude, Uwizeyimana Bonaventure, Munyaneza Didier, Ingabire Beatha and Manizabayo Magnifique.
In the previous edition held in Glasgow, Scotland, Rwanda fielded six riders in men’s category in Glasgow. Former national team captain Janvier Hadi and Valens Ndayisenga competed in Individual Time Trial (ITT) and finished 19th and 23rd respectively.
They were also joined by Adrien Niyonshuti, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Gasore Hategeka and Jean Bosco Nsengimana but none of the six riders managed to finish the race that was won by Wales’ Thomas Geraith. The 168.2km race had 120 riders on the start-list but only 12 managed to cross the finish-line.
Continental queens Nzayisenga Charlotte and Mutatsimpundu will not only represent Rwanda but Africa at the global show piece.
Mutatsimpundu and Nzayisenga booked a ticket to the finals of the XXI Commonwealth Games last October after beating Nigeria in the final of African Championships in Sierra Leone.
Rwanda has been drawn in Group C alongside favourites New Zealand, Singapore and Vanuata. Mudahinyuka’s ladies will have to finish in the group’s top two to secure a spot in knock-out stages, but, the road to the medal podium is even tougher.
Group A comprises of hosts Australia, Scotland, Grenada and Cyprus while Group B is made of giants Canada, England, Trinidad and Tobago as well as Fiji.
Since February 12, Nzayisenga and Mutatsimpundu are training at Amahoro stadium and they will enter residential camp on March 3 for intensive preparations in Rubavu district. The duo is coached by Christophe Mudahinyuka.
Paralympian Niyonzima Vedaste will make his debut in the men’s powerlifting at the Commonwealth Games after Rwanda was allowed only one wild card spot in men’s powerlifting.
Since the debut participation in the quadrennial event in New Delhi, India, in 2010, no Rwandan athlete has ever been able to win a medal.
Final Rwanda Commonwealth Games Team
Athletics: Nyirarukundo Salome, Nizeyimana Alexis, Sugira James, Nishimwe Beatha, Ishimwe Alice and Tuyishime Christophe
Beach Volleyball: Nzayisenga Charlotte and Mutatsimpundu Denyse
Cycling: Areruya Joseph, Ndayisenga Valens, Ukiniwabo Jean Paul Rene, Uwizeye Jean Claude, Uwizeyimana Bonaventure, Munyaneza Didier, Ingabire Beatha, Manizabayo Magnifique
Para Powerlifting: Niyonzima Vedaste