Team Rwanda collects three medals at African Championships
The Rwanda national cycling team returns home from the Africa Championships in Casablanca, Morocco with record tally of three medals including one gold and two silver medals from the time trial and road race events.
The team of 11 riders made up of eight U-23/Elite men, two junior men and one woman, was the biggest team ever Rwanda has sent to the African Continental Road Championships since 2010, when Rwanda was the host nation.
On Tuesday February 23, Jeanne d’Arc Girubuntu,the only female rider in the national cycling team, grabbed a slice of history for Rwanda with a silver medal in the women individual time trial to claim the first ever Rwandan medal in the female events
Team Rwanda coach Jonathan Boyer believes Jeanne d’Arc will open the door to women riders in Rwanda in the same way as Adrien did.
"She can be very popular with her results but also her style and her name – Joan of Arc – who suggests some fight for freedom. “ he said
On Wednesday February 23, Team Dimension Data’s Valens Ndayisenga improved upon his bronze-medal performance last year to win the gold medal in the U-23 individual trial. This was Rwanda’s first gold medal in the competition.
In the most grueling and last race of the competition, the 180-kilometer men’s elite road race, Rwanda collected another silver medal. Jean Claude Uwizeye finished 2 seconds behind Team Dimension Data’s Gebreigzabhier Amanuel to earn the silver medal in the men’s U-23 race.
Another podium finish looked on cards for Joseph Areruya,the 2016 Tour du Rwanda runner-up, who finished two seconds behind Saidi Nassim and had to settle for fourth.
It was the first time Rwanda has won a gold medal at the African Continental Road Championships. The previous best were silver medals in 2014 and last year.
With the obvious the improvement in this year’s Africa Road Continental Championships results compared to last year’s events, Aimable Bayingana, the President of Rwanda Cycling Federation was pleased with Team Rwanda performance.
“This is the first time we have collected more than one medal including a gold medal. It shows how far we have come. It is a big step for us but we want more medals.” he said
Bayingana stressed the “aspiration” to win more medals especially in the Elite category “Our target is to win more medal in various categories including the Elite.”