The New Times (Kigali)

13 November 2012

Rwanda: Canadian Olympic Medallist Tips Rwandan Athletes

CLARA Hughes, an 18-time Canadian national cycling champion, has tipped Rwandan athletes on success at international stage.

The 40-year old made the observation on Sunday during the Right to Play International board of directors' news conference that attracted other three Olympic gold medallists from the USA.

Right To Play is an international humanitarian organisation that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world.

"We had an interactive discussion with Rwandan athletes, they really have passion and commitment in whatever they do and I hope if they continue like that, it's a matter of time to win gold medals in international sporting competitions," said Hughes.

She talked about how the power of sport has changed her life from drug addiction to being Olympic medal winner.

Hughes has won the silver medal at the 1995 World Cycling Championships (Time Trial) and a gold medal at 2002 Commonwealth Games.

She participated in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics, winning two bronze medals at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, in the individual road race and the individual time trial.

According to President and CEO of the Right Play Johann Koss, the team is in Rwanda to explore how Right to Play Rwanda is operating and find out more areas of intervention.

"We have been in Rwanda for a few days and we have realised that there is strong participation of Rwandan children in Right to Play activities. We are looking for more partners to be able cover the whole country," he said.

Right to Play Rwanda operates in Kigali City, Rubavu and Bugesera Districts, working with nursery, primary and secondary schools, orphanages, centres for street children and youth-centric organisations among others.

Among the visiting delegation is Heather O'Reilly, US women's national soccer team player, Natalie Anne Coughlin, an American international swimmer and Heather Petri, an American water polo player.

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