Rwanda Taekwondo Federation Secretary General Placide Bagabo has heaped praise on the national Para-Taekwondo team following their outstanding debut performance at the just-concluded second edition of African Para-Taekwondo open.
Rwanda hosted the continental showpiece that is only meant for martial artists with physical disabilities and impairments at Amahoro indoor stadium from March 31 to April 2 claiming a total of six medals in different categories hence finishing as the best team overall.
“It was a great performance, yes we expected some medals but we never thought of winning the whole tournament that comprised of the world’s strong nations like Spain and Morocco yet we were making our first ever appearance,” said Bagabo
“This is a great indicator that we can become a world powerhouse in this kind of sport and we shall facilitate and continue to prepare these athletes for world competitions,” he added
The six medals that Rwanda won included; 2 gold medals through Jean de la Croix Nikwigize in the K41 Male under-61kg category and Consolee Rukundo in the K42 Female under-58kg category. She was the only female on the 15-player team.
Rukundo also won a silver medal in the K44 Female under-58kg before Jean Claude Niringiyimana scooped silver in the K44 Male under-61kg and team captain Jean Marie Vianney Bizumuremyi got Rwanda a third silver K42 Male under-61 kg.
Jean Pierre Manirakiza won a bronze in the K42 Male under-61kg to bring Rwanda’s medal tally to six ahead of Spain, that finished with three medals (2 gold and 1 silver) and Uzbekistan (2 gold and 2 bronze).
This year’s edition attracted a total of 15 countries including Rwanda after three countries namely; Niger, Austria and Mozambique pulled out of the event at the last minute.
“Despite facing some disappointments from different sponsors who had accepted to sponsor the event, we managed to have a very great tournament, far better than the first edition that took place in Egypt last year,” he disclosed
The 15 countries that competed in this year’s edition included; Ghana, Comoros, United States of America, Spain, France, Germany, Uzbekistan, Serbia, Nigeria, Lesotho, Morocco, DR Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia and hosts Rwanda.