Rwanda's Paralympic High Hopes

With the support of IPC’s Agitos Foundation, the African nation sees a boost in Paralympic sport and expects to surpass its own record high delegation of 15 athletes who competed at London 2012. Story Sponsored by GE. 

By Juliana Saporito 

Rio de Janeiro— After sending a delegation of 15 athletes to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Rwanda expects to set a new record in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The African nation’s Paralympic Committee was one of 28 projects to receive a donation of 650,000-euros from a support program by the Agitos Foundation, an entity linked to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

In addition to National Committees, the Agitos Foundation helped finance international Paralympic federations and sport organizations. In Rwanda, it is estimated that the financial aid will help around 900 athletes.

Among those athletes is the Rio2016-hopeful Josphine Ngabire, who lost an arm during the Rwandan war when she was only 4 years old. 

Ngabire – who competes in athletics – says Paralympic sport has changed her life. “I am more confident and I feel included in society. Before I was feeling isolated and not participating in any community events. Now, since I joined this program I have dreams.”

With little history in Paralympic sport – Rwanda’s debut in Summer Paralympic Games only came at Sydney 2000 – now the country’s sport leaders dream of a more significant and successful participation at the most important Paralympic sporting event in the world. 

“At London 2012 we have seen that Rwanda has the potential to have many athletes on high level,” says Rwandan Paralympic Committee’s president Celestin Nzeyimana. 

Repeating a London 2012 feat, when the men’s sitting volleyball team competed at the Games, Rwanda will be represented in Rio by the women’s squad. It is the sole African representative in sitting volleyball at the Rio 2016 Games.

“We are feeling good.” Says Liliane Mukobwankabe, captain of the women’s sitting volleyball team. “We do not want to go to Rio just to visit the city, but to win and enjoy the Games.”

Cover Photo Credit: National Paralympic Committee of Rwanda 

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