By Nick Butler

The Rwanda team at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games ©AFP/Getty ImagesMarch 9 - Rwanda is hoping to compete at its first ever Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang in four years time.

This follows a recent visit by a six-man delegation from the African nation to the Alpensia resort in the South Korean county - where they focused on downhill skiing as part of an annual winter sports training camp for youths from non-traditional winter sport nations. 

Led by Martin Koonce, executive director of the Rwanda National Olympic and Sport Committee (RNOSC), two taekwondo players and three Para-athletes attended the camp - including athletics' T46 800 metres world champion Cliff Hermas Muvunyi.

"It is a real possibility that Rwandans can participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics and be competitive if we begin preparing now and if we believe," Koonce said.

Muvunyi, who before winning gold at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships competed at the London 2012 Summer Games, added that "it was a good experience and there is hope that we can perform well".

The aim will be to compete in downhill skiing, short track speed skating, cross country skiing and biathlon.

Rwanda has a strong heritage in Paralympic sport and its sitting volleyball team competed at London 2012 ©Getty ImagesRwanda has a strong heritage in Paralympic sport and its sitting volleyball team competed at London 2012 ©Getty Images

Rwanda has competed in all Summer Olympic Games since Los Angeles 1984 and although the nation is yet to win an Olympic medal it did take a Paralympic bronze at Athens 2004 courtesy of another T46 800m runner in Jean de Dieu Nkundabera.

In what can be taken as an indicator of sporting growth, it was also announced this week that RNOSC vice-president Phophina Gashugi has been appointed head of the sport and environment commission at the National Olympic Committees in Africa (ANOCA).

As the first person from Rwanda to serve on the continental Governing body, she will work three other members - Francis Paul of Kenya, Omar Diagne Seydina of Senegal and Gideon Sam of South Africa - to produce a presentation on sport and environment on the African continent that will be showcased during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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