08/08/2019 - 10:13

Vénuste Niyongabo: from gold winner to ‘giving back’ to his homeland at the Friendship Games

Champion for Peace and Olympic gold medallist in the 5000-metre run, Vénuste Niyongabo is committed to giving back to his community by dedicating his time and celebrity to projects which use sport to tackle social issues. He will lead peace-through-sport activities for youngsters during the 10th Friendship Games organized by Peace and Sport in Burundi from 12-18 August. For one week, this year’s Friendship Games will give 50 school teachers and 300 young people training in Peace and Sport’s methodology, which promotes inclusion, dialogue and respect through sport.

The itinerant Games will start in Gitega before moving to Makamba – Vénuste Niyongabo’s hometown – and Bujumbura. The focus will be on teaching the positive values of sport to youngsters. Niyongabo, Burundi’s first-ever and thus-far only, Olympic medallist will meet local communities and promote dialogue and respect through sport. He will lead an emblematic Peace Run with children and adults to close the Games in partnership with the Burundi National Olympic Committee and the athletics club of Bujumbura, on 17 August, in Bujumbura. This run aims to raise awareness among the general public on the positive impact of sport on society.

Champion for Peace and Olympic gold medallist Vénuste Niyongabo said:
“Being the only Olympic champion of Burundi allows me to send a message to young people, a message of peace, sharing and friendship through sport. It is a great pleasure for me to be part of this 10th edition of the Friendship Games in my homeland.”

Gold medallist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and Peace and Sport Champion for Peace since 2010, Vénuste Niyongabo is one of 116 international athletes that have joined forces with Peace and Sport to support the peace through sport movement. He has been the Ambassador for several editions of the Friendship Games, showing young people in the Great Lake region that it is possible to understand each other, find common ground and live together peacefully.

Since 2009, Peace and Sport has supported six training centres in the Great Lakes region in Africa, in partnership with National Olympic Committees, international and national sporting federations, local authorities and Champions for Peace. Every year, youngsters from these centres meet up for the Friendship Games for peace-through-sport activities, cultural exchanges and peacebuilding activities. So far more than 1,700 youngsters have had the opportunity to participate, forge intercultural dialogue and experience the power of sport for peace. In 2019, the Games will promote the use of Peace and Sport’s methodology in the extracurricular programs in Burundi schools.

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