Niyonshuti-From Rwanda genocide to the London Games

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By Paul Sherwood

SO here’s the plot — young man sees 60 members of his family murdered and becomes an Olympic athlete.

Even the most creative film-maker would turn down that one.

Except it’s true.

Adrien Niyonshuti had almost his entire family — including six brothers — wiped out during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

But last year, Niyonshuti, 26, competed at London 2012, finishing 39th in the mountain biking event.

His story — and that of the rest of the Rwandan cycling team — is told in the film Rising from Ashes, which has its European premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square on May 9.

The film is narrated by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and backed by British actor Clive Owen.

Owen, a goodwill ambassador for the Aegis Trust for genocide prevention, said: “It’s a truly extraordinary story — one that deserves the largest possible audience.

“So often when people think of Rwanda, they just think ‘genocide’. Yes, that legacy is very real, but so is the courage of an amazing new generation of Rwandans finding ways to overcome that and work together. Team Rwanda, in Rising from Ashes, exemplifies that spirit.”

Niyonshuti added: “Rwanda is a country that has undergone catastrophe during the genocide.

“It is changing its future, and I believe that when people see what we are doing, they’ll change their minds from what they thought of Rwanda.”

Also lending their support on the night will be Olympic track cycling gold medallist Philip Hindes, UCI president Pat McQuaid, and four-times Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington.

The event will begin with a champagne reception and, after the film, a question and answer session featuring Niyonshuti and other members of Team Rwanda.

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