Adrien Niyonshuti is an Olympic Mountain Biker for Team Rwanda. He survived the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but lost many of his family and loved ones. He was the flag-bearer for Rwanda in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. We went to meet Adrien at his training camp and he told us what it meant to him to be representing Rwanda at London 2012.
The script below does not always exactly match the speech.
How did it feel to bear the flag for Rwanda at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics?
Yeah it was really nice for myself, first thing, was very nice for myself to see. It was amazing to be at the Opening Ceremony here in London. There were a lot of people and… it was amazing, just, it was amazing you know. I didn’t know how I was going to take it, but when I got the flag and entered in the stadium just everywhere there were people and, like, it was amazing, just crazy things. I don’t know how I can say, you know!
What do the Olympics and participating as part of Rwanda’s team mean to you?
It’s very important to have some athletes that come from Rwanda. You know, Rwanda is really far and like everyone knows Rwanda for 19 years ago, for the genocide. So if you saw Rwanda last week, for the Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games, I’m sure everyone will start to think ‘Ooh, Rwanda, they can be present for the Olympics.’ You know, it’s time to change some minds of some people or to change the minds of some people in the world. They think Rwanda is only about bad stuff, now in Rwanda there’s some good stuff. We have athletes; they represent Rwanda for the Olympics and in sports around the world so I think it’s amazing for myself and for athletes who come from Rwanda. And I think it’s better and nice to be representing Rwanda.
What would you say to young people and the community about why they should play sport together?
I think it all depends… For sports, there are a lot of kinds of sports and for me I’m a cyclist so there’s mountain bike, or road bike or track. There’s a lot of kinds of sports so for young people if you’re here and you’re watching how it’s amazing in the Opening Ceremony and how it’s amazing to be watch the sports they are doing now in Rwanda, you tell yourself you want to be there. I think you owe it to yourself to try your best to be there. Because for me, for example, when I watched Beijing, I said to myself ‘I want to be there one day.’ And then now, I made it. I was there in Rwanda, and I saw how the Opening Ceremony was so nice and watching a lot of events and sports. And how amazing for me this week, it would be hard for me, the people will be watching me I think and it’s nice you know, it’s really nice. So I can say that if some young people watching this have the opportunity to go to do something I can say ‘Try, try your best to be something really nice.’
Visit the Team Rwanda website to find more information about the cyclists and the film Rising from Ashes.