Rwanda’s flagbearer at the London 2012 Olympics
Adrien Niyonshuti traveled a long distance to get to the London Summer Olympics. It wasn’t just the distance to his native Rwanda, thousands of miles away, but a greater, more personal distance. Only six years earlier, he had won a mountain bike race on a borrowed bike. Now he had his own professional mountain bike. Adrien Niyonshuti is the Team Rwanda’s first rider and the first Rwandan to qualify in mountain biking for the Olympics. He took the 39th spot in 2012 in London where his goal was merely to finish the challenging 34 kilometer race.
During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Adrien lost six of his brothers. His story was featured in a recent Sports Illustrated South Africa article.
Adrien is an amazing cyclist and he represents the hope of all Rwandans as they pedal towards the future. He received his first bike as a gift from an uncle. His first race was the Tour of Rwanda and he finished sixth in this competition. He went on to finish second in the Tour of Rwanda in both 2006 and 2007. In 2008, he was offered a pro contract to race with MTN Energade, now MTN Qhubeka and he continues to race for MTN.
In London, he made an appearance with the actor Clive Owen. When he admitted to Owen that his only goal for the Olympics was to finish the race, the actor told him, “Everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve achieved, you’re an absolute inspiration to us all.”