Rwanda Takes Pride in Tokyo Despite Paralympics Disappointment

8 September 2021

The national women's national sitting volleyball team returns home with their heads held high despite struggling to hit their mark in the just-concluded Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

In their second appearance in the Paralympic Games after Rio 2016, Rwanda's sitting volleyball team registered their first win ever after defeating host nation Japan 3-0 in the 7/8th position classification match at Tokyo 2020.

The team, led by head coach Jean Marie Nsengiyumva, became the first and only Sub-Saharan women's sitting volleyball team in history to compete at the Paralympics.

After losing all matches in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the women's sitting volleyball made improved their performance in Tokyo after winning their first-ever Paralympic match with 3-0 victory over hosts Japan.

That saw the team jump with joy and erupted in tears as they claimed their first victory following successive defeats in their matches against the United States, Russia and People's Republic of China at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games to end bottom of Group C.

The road to Tokyo wasn't quite as impressive as the United States' triumphant campaign but the heroic victory has boosted their confidence as they now target big things in the future, with Paris 2024 already their top target.

"We will start now to prepare for Paris 2024, we won't wait," said Nsengiyumva.

The coach is now looking to take advantage of the growth of sitting volleyball in Rwanda and build a stronger side around young women who can challenge for a medal in Paris.

With the team now dominating African Women's Sitting Volleyball, Rwanda now wants to extend their continental dominance beyond Africa and turn themselves into potential candidates for Paralympic medals, starting in Paris.


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