A group of former Rwandan athletes within and outside the country have launched a fundraising drive to raise funds for former national Olympian Mathias Ntawurikura, who is battling a urinary system disorder.
The group, led by former 100m and 200m national athlete Martin Uwimana have opened up a WhatsApp and Facebook page, specifically to raise over Rwf10 million to enable Ntawurikura seek treatment in Italy.
Among those leading the campaign is Dieudonné Disi, a former long-distance runner, Serge Gasore, a former athlete and founder of Gasore Foundation and France-based Rwandan long distance runner Eric Mazimpaka as well as female Olympian Claudette Mukasakindi.
The message by the group, which was created two weeks ago, reads, 'Help Ntawurikura, who is currently facing a serious health condition at his home in Remera, Kabeza.'
Disi wrote, "We should help our fellow Rwandan and athlete so that he can receive medical treatment, we call upon well-wishers to join the group to raise the funds so that we can save his life."
Ntawurikura is considered one of Rwanda's top Olympians ever following his participation in five Olympics Games. He holds the men's national record of 7:41:64 in the 3000m.
The five-time Olympian has, for the last couple of months, been to several hospitals including at Karongi-Bwishyura where the disorder was first diagnosed before being transferred to Kanombe Military hospital but his condition has not changed.
Having raced and lived in Italy after his retirement, Ntawurikura has been influential in helping and linking local national athletes to either train or get teams in Italy. Last year, he secured a training opportunity for Mukasakindi in Italy ahead of the Rio Olympic Games.
Ntawurikura made his Olympics debut at the 1988 Seoul Games in Korea and went on to compete at the Barcelona Games (1992), Atlanta Games (1996), Sydney (2000) and Athens Games in 2004.