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11 December 2012
Cairo, Egypt, December 10, 2012- To capture gold medals in any team sport is a great achievement, but for Burundi Junior Beach Volleyball team of Briand Mugabowingabo and Bruce Dukundane it is something historic as it was the first ever gold medal in the history of their country in any kind of sport.
The achievement was important enough that Burundi President of the Republic Pierre Nkurunziza received the players upon their arrival to the airport and also meet them with the federation President Louis Rwakiranya at the Presidential palace to honour them with orders for their achievement.
When Burundi Volleyball Federation send the beach pairing to Togo where it hosted the first ever CAVB Beach Volleyball Junior Cup early in July, no one expected that the 19y old boys will return back home with a position in the podium. But with their fantastic performance they returned with the best position when they won the gold medals form the more experienced countries in the continent specially Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and South Africa which was their last victim in the final.
"All the people thought that we can't be African champions in Lome, specially my teammate Bruce and me," Briand Mugabowingabo said after putting the gold medal around his neck.
"We were talking together every night during the competition and ask ourselves, why we don't think to play the final and win the gold medals. We even were thinking to be crowned even when we lost against South Africa in our first match. At that time we feel that we had nothing to lose and we should start our story from that match."
Bruce Dukundane remembered his feeling after losing the first encounter against South Africa, "I felt that it was a very important lesson for us because we didn't do the team work in that match and we decided to do it regularly afterwards. We decided to play for the gold using the advantage that we are not classified as favourites for the title. When we met South Africa again in the final we were talking happily that most of the media will consider us as underdogs."
"This time we felt that we were able to do it and that what happened when we extracted all our abilities to win the final in straight sets 2-0 (21-16, 21-11). In the second set we felt that we can beat any team in the world with the great team work we did which couldn't be tolerated by the opponent. we felt that we are flying in the beach and we can Subdue the ball whatever we want,"
"We couldn't imagine one day that we can meet the president of our country. It was like a very far dream. I told Bruce after the meeting, Are we dreaming, please tell me," remembered Briand when he was leaving the president office.
"It was a great story but we felt the value of volleyball at that time, We felt with playing around the beaches that we can do more than anyone of our age."
"I'm happy that we give the spot light to our sport in the country and I feel when the media started to write and talk about us that we can create more for our country." They added.
Burundi pairing started their volleyball career at school in the indoor volleyball team. But the CAVB Continental Cup in 2011 was a new step in their career as they were selected to represent the senior team in the competition although they were below 18. They finished the zonal phase at the third position in a competition with older players from the top countries like Kenya, Egypt, Uganda and Burundi. Now at the final year of the secondary school they have more dreams to achieve.
"I dream now to play at the professional level in Europe or America but we can't forget out country at any time because we have a lot to do for it in future." they concluded.
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