When 15-year-old Alphonsine Agahozo swims at the London Olympics next month, she will be the pride of her father and landlocked African nation.
Dad Alphonse Twagirimana, a swimming instructor for 30 years, but now unemployed, began teaching her to swim when she was three and will now watch to see how years of hard work pay off in her 50m freestyle heats on Aug. 3.
“I realized she would go far as a swimmer when she was just six years old,” he said.
Agahozo, who secured her place through one of two guaranteed places given to each national Olympic committee in swimming, knows she has a lot of work to do since her personal best of 30.2 seconds is far below the world record of 23.73 seconds.
“I am competing against all the world ... but I have experience competing in different events so I think I will be OK,” she said at the national Amahoro stadium in Kigali.
Agahozo trained for years in a small outdoor pool at her local sports center before winning a scholarship to study and train in France last year. She is broad shouldered and strong, but otherwise looks like any other girl of her age.
“It’s not Rwanda’s first time to be represented at the Olympics in swimming, but what makes us so proud is that we are represented by such a talented young woman,” Rwandan Swimming Federation president Samuel Kinimba Ufitimana said.