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2 March 2013
Before their gold Medal at the first CAVB Junior Beach Cup in Togo, the Rwanda beach pairing of Denyse Mutatsimpundu/ Charlotte Nzayisenga were completely unknown even locally at their homeland. But after the competition held on July 2012 they have become the most famous athletes in Rwanda simply because it was the first ever gold medal in the history of the country in any team sport.
What made the victory more historic was the final against the experienced South African pairing of Liezle Petersen/ Brittiny Deelcarme who came to Togo as the top favourites for the gold. Rwanda won the final 2-0 (21-15, 23-21), but after a thrilling second set that made the spectators on their toes till the final whistle.
"We came from behind to achieve the gold simply because the South African Ladies were thinking that they have already won the competition even before the start of the tournament," Said Denyse Mutatsimpundu.
"Usually the team coming away from the spot light can achieve more than those who are coming with strong history behind, that was the point of our strength in the competition,"
Denyse and Charlotte are still students in the secondary school but volleyball made them more mature than their real age.
"We started volleyball as indoor players in one of the clubs in Kigali, but the continental cup was a great chance for me and Denyse to make a strong team," Said her teammate Charlotte Nzayisenga.
"We won the silver medal at both the sub zonal and zonal phases although we were the youngest players in the prestigious FIVB event which acts also as a qualifier for the Olympic Games. We gained the experience before playing in the junior cup against competitors of the same age."
They had more confidence to win the gold in Togo but it wasn't an easy way. In the group stage they beat Gabon, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone and lost against heavy favourites South Africa to qualify to the semifinal as second of the pool.
Later they extracted all the power to beat Nigeria in the semifinal before they revenged against South Africa to achieve the gold medal.
"We returned back home to find most of the sports Authority waiting for us and we felt that we have become very famous athletes in the country. The gold we had is the only medal of this kind in the history of the team sport and we should be proud of that. We had become the model of the sport in our country," concluded the Rwandan duo.
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