Last week, Team Africa Rising with the support of the Rwandan Cycling Federation, promoted Nathan Byukusenge to Head Women's/Juniors Program Coach. Nathan was returning from a two month training course for coaches along with two riders, Jean Eric, a junior and Magnifique a female cyclist.
Nathan retired after the 2016 Tour of Rwanda at the age of 36. He had been one of the original five members of Team Rwanda Cycling in 2007. After retiring, he pursued coaching programs and began working at the Africa Rising Cycling Center as a coach, with his also recently retired teammate, Abraham Ruhumuriza.
Nathan is an incredibly humble man who took the news of his promotion with some concern. "I only want to be the best and I'm still learning so I'm not the best yet." With that attitude we have no reason to believe he won't be the best!
Jean Pierre (JP) Van Zyl, Director of the UCI World Cycling Center South Africa agreed with Nathan's progress. JP coached Nathan in the early days in 2007 when the growth of cycling began to take a foothold. JP was as equally proud of Nathan's transition from cyclist to coach:
Nathan has come full circle and he has moved from the rider who used to get instructions to the coach who gives instructions. The beauty about watching Nathan is that he realized the responsibility of the other side of the cycling world. Riders watch your every move and when you speak they are listening and taking all you say in like a sponge. With that Nathan realized the responsibility, that the way one acts and the experience you carry as an ex rider who has reached the highest peak as an Olympian carries a great deal of respect and responsibility. I think Nathan realized that he has so much to offer the riders, not to make the same mistakes or go in the wrong direction. He has had role models who he respects as a person and realize that he can change lives.
He gave a little speech the last night at the camp, telling riders to follow their dreams, that their lives can change like his did and mentioned Adrian. He told them they are lucky to have the opportunity at the camp. That this was just the start if they listened to their coaches, respected their fellow riders and stayed humble, focused and structured. Now that made me proud ! He realized that a whole new chapter started and that he can play a huge part in peoples lives not only on a bike as a rider but in their future and how they can benefit as a person.
We had many discussions throughout his stay about life as a cyclist, where we started and where he is now. And to listen to him talk about the young kids and new riders and how cycling can teach them values as he learnt from us (Jock & Me) That he could pass on the tools he learned about life and his journey so far, how it can change African kids lives in general. I always told him that not everyone he coaches will be successful as a rider, but that he will play a part in the way they conduct themselves from that moment forward and we must give them the pillars to build a better life.
Ultimately Nathan has come full circle and he realized the part he has and the legacy that he will leave in each and everyone’s life as a cyclist he coaches.
Team Rwanda is about more than just building a great cycling team to represent the country of Rwanda. TRC is about teaching the next generation of retired cyclists to be mechanics, coaches and soigneurs and to lead Team Rwanda into the next generation.
To support the training of avid students of the sport of cycling like Nathan, please give today!