Rwandan Paralympic team arrives in Bury
THE Rwandan Paralympic team arrived in Bury yesterday with a mission to do far more than win medals.
Dominique Bizimana, a member of the sitting volleyball team and President of the Rwandan Paralympic Committee said: “No other sub-Saharan country is competing this year in the Paralympic Gamnes so all other sub-Saharan countries are waiting for our results.
He and chef de mission Celestin Nzeyimana explained how the new disabled movement in Rwanda is, through sport, raising the profile of disabled people there.
Mr Nzeyimana, who used crutches because of childhood polio until he took up sport, said: “Before the genocide, they were marginalised, not even going to school, but through sport we’re showing the public that we can do things. We’re not there for begging, we’re there for studying like other children.”
Mr Bizimana added: “We’re representing our country. This idea that we’re useless is no longer there. We’ve shown that we’re able to qualify a team.”
They are fielding an 11-man sitting volleyball team, a weight lifter and two track athletes, one of whom, Hermas Muvunyi, is a medal hope for the 400m.
The volleyball team were today raving about the smooth wooden floor at Bury Leisure Centre where they will be training. Sitting volleyball involves sliding around the floor and at home they often have to practice on packed earth pitches because there is only one proper gym in the country. Mr Bizimana has scars on his leg above his amputation from the hard floors.
The teams disabilities mostly result from polio, for which a vaccination programme has only just begun, or as a result of war or the 1994 genocide.
The team is playing the GB sitting volleyball team in a friendly this afternoon and have a diary of events around Bury ending with attending the Suffolk Paralympic Flame Celebration at Needham Lakes on Friday August 24. The games start on August 29.
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Weather for Bury St Edmunds
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east