For Hassan Ndayishimiye, a junior sport management major from Bujumbura, Burundi, the 2016 Olympics are just within his grasp.
Millions of people flock every four years to the Summer Olympics, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but Ndayishimiye has the opportunity to compete for his home country as a tennis player.
While at a tournament in Istanbul, Ndayishimiye got the news that he had been selected by Burundi to compete in the Summer Olympics — if he is able to qualify.
“I’m representing my country, but, as a Trojan, I’m representing the Trojans too and the university,” Ndayishimiye said. “It was an honor to be selected to compete for my country and for Troy.”
Ndayishimiye has been a student at Troy for two semesters and said he decided to come to Troy because of his “amazing coach” and the fact that Troy felt like home.
According to Scott Kidd, the head tennis coach, Ndayishimiye will be the first Troy student-athlete to go to the Summer Olympics.
“He has to meet a certain qualification, but he has until June to do it,” Kidd said. “We are confident that he will. It’s happening. We will make sure it happens.
“We are making smart decisions in training and schedules to make sure he is ready. We are making sure we pick the right tournaments as well.”
Ndayishimiye has been playing tennis since he was 5 years old and began competing when he was 10. His sister is ranked the No. 1 tennis player in Africa for ages 14 and under.
“Tennis was not a big sport in my country,” Ndayishimiye said. “It was there for rich people, but my background is of a poor family. My father was a coach at a club to provide for the family.
“I never knew it would take me this far,” Ndayishimiye said. “My father wanted me to play, but at first I didn’t like it. I liked to play soccer with my friends.
“I realized that when you play tennis and you win, you get some kind of present, so then I moved to tennis.”
Ndayishimiye said he is nervous about competing because it is “a completely different level.”
Kidd said that the players are required to have only 20 hours of practice a week, but that they can volunteer as many extra hours as they would like.
“We have an hour of fitness each day and then two hours of tennis,” Ndayishimiye said.
Although some players take the year off to prepare for the Olympics, Ndayishimiye said that he will remain in class and find a way to balance both.
“When I graduate, I want to go to professional events and play professional tennis,” he said.
Ndayishimiye said that professional tennis player Serena Williams is his role model when it comes to tennis because “she is a role model outside of the court as well as inside of the court.”
Ndayishimiye said that he misses his family but that he looks forward to making them proud at the Olympics.