Nathan Byukusenge, Mr. 55 (in reference to his weight in kilos which never wavers), Icugu, which means lizard because he's small and climbs like a lizard climbing a wall. Nathan started out on Team Rwanda Cycling as a bit of a problem child, who developed into one of the most dependable members of the team over the past decade.
Nathan is small in stature but gigantic in spirit with a megawatt smile and a contagious laugh. Nathan has always been the glue holding the team together in some of its darkest moments.
Nathan joined the team at 27, which is a bit old to start a career in cycling. Nathan and Adrien were the two strongest members of the original five and in 2008, were selected to race for MTN Energade, a Continental team based in South Africa. Unfortunately, during Nathan's stay in South Africa, there was a robbery. Nathan hid in a cupboard while the thieves attacked one of his teammates. The memories of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda came flooding back, PTSD never acknowledged, diagnosed or dealt with caused him to return to Rwanda. He knew, at his age, he would most likely never get another chance to race professionally. Nathan never looked back, never harbored regrets.
Nathan raced most of the international races from 2007 - 2014. Because he adhered to such a strict diet and training regime, he was able to continue being one of the most capable members of the team. He was the team captain for several Tour of Rwanda events and raced every Tour from 2009 until he retired in 2016, the only one of the original five to do so.
In 2015, Rwanda hosted the African Continental Championship Mountain Bike race. This race was an Olympic selection race for 2016 Rio Games. Nathan had to finish the second country to guarantee his slot. If he finished the third country, he would have to wait until early 2016 to receive confirmation. He finished as the third country, and in early 2016, he won his selection.
At the age of 36, Nathan Byukusenge found himself at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He finished 2016 with his final appearance at the Tour of Rwanda and retired.
During his years racing, Nathan was the most frugal of the cyclists and saved money diligently to build a beautiful house in his hometown of Gitarama. He married Diane Uwineza, another cyclist, and he has a young son, Alex, who just started school.
In early 2017, Nathan went to the African Continental Track Championships as a coach. He took two new cyclists, one junior and one U23. The junior won three medals and the U23, Didier Munyaneza made the Colorado Classic team for the August 2017 race. Nathan also passed his UCI Level 2 Coaching Course.
In late 2017, Nathan became Head Coach for the juniors and women's national team programs.
Nathan continues to ride now as a coach alongside the next generation of Team Rwanda. He has continued to build editions onto his home adding dormitories for up and coming cyclists. He also runs a new club, Muhazi, and his new female cyclist took first at the recent Rwanda Cycling Cup race the end of March.
Nathan has built a life around cycling and will continue to be the example for the next generation of cyclists coming out of Rwanda.