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RWANDAN junior athletes jet out of the country today to compete at this year’s Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA) Youth Games scheduled to start on May 22 in Gaborone.

Rwandan tennis players
Rwandan tennis players

The contingent departs at 6pm aboard RwandAir to Johannesburg where the team is expected to spend a night before heading to Gaborone aboard South African Airways.

The country will be represented by a 67-man delegation including officials and athletes set to compete in eleven sports disciplines. The disciplines are boxing, volleyball, athletics, basketball (3 on 3), cycling, fencing, golf, karate, lawn tennis, table tennis and Taekwondo.

Swimmers were barred from competing because the Rwanda Swimming Federation has not fulfilled the legal requirements expected of all local federations. Earlier this month, the Rwandan team Chef de Mission, Elie Manirarora, revealed that the swimming and boxing federations were banned from sending athletes to the games in Gaborone because they had failed to meet legal requirements as required on top of failing to conduct appropriate preparations for the event.

However, when contacted, the local Olympic Committee officials said that the Rwanda Amateur Boxing Association has since met the requirements, which will now see Jean Pierre Cyiza represent the country in Gaborone as a sole boxer.

“Public expectations from the participating teams are high,” Rwanda Olympic Committee’s Executive Director Martin Koonce told Times Sport.

Koonce noted that with high expectations, team adjustments will need to be made to achieve higher levels of performance in Botswana. Forty one athletes will be flying Rwanda’s flag in Gaborone.

This is the second time that ANOCA is hosting the youth championships. The idea to have the Africa youth games was hatched in 2006, but the very first event got underway in 2010 in Rabat.

The international multi-sport event is held every four years to complement the current All-Africa Games. Rabat staged the inaugural edition and attracted just over 1,000 athletes from 41 countries and regions participating in 16 sports disciplines.

More than 2,500 junior athletes and officials are expected to jet into the landlocked Southern Africa nation starting this week for the youth games played in an Olympic format. The games will end on 31st May.

The New Times