Dana: Hello Jonathan, I already know your project partner Anna, Behrlenbach. Now I would like to know you and everything about your experience with artistic cycling. I am very glad!
Jonathan: Dear Dana, I am happy to hear that!
Dana: How come did you meet Anna in Rwanda and what did you feel about the idea of artistic cycling?
Jonathan: I met Anna on Instagram. She saw on my circus company profile some pictures of me and my unicycle, and then texted me. She was interested in what we were doing so she asked me to have a meeting and talk. In the beginning, when I started talking to her, we discuss making a cycling project using unicycles. But this didn’t work because it was not easy to find those unicycles and I only had one.
Dana: So you switched to artistic cycling?
Jonathan: Yes. Some days later she invited me where she was staying here in Kigali and asked me my opinion about the idea for the project. She introduced to me artistic cycling. She also is an artistic cycling athlete. It was not easy to understand because it was the first time that I saw it. I was very interested after watching the videos and I felt very curious about the bikes. Then she told me that she received four small bikes from Germany. I was very happy to hear this good news!
Dana: Wow, it sounds like it was a very fast process. And how did you start the project with the children? Was it in school?
Jonathan: No, it was not in a school. I know different kids who used to participate in our projects in Kimisagara youth center. When Anna said that the bikes were already in town, I invited them. I went to the center and ask the leaders for a place to use. That’s how we started the project and Anna started showing some tricks and how to do them.
Dana: Nice! How many kids do you take care of training nowadays?
Jonathan: In the beginning, while Anna was still here, they were more than 65. After she left, it was no longer easy for me to manage them by myself and the place was not big enough. There were always different activities that happen every day. I decided to select only 15 kids whom I can manage and take care of easily. I told the other ones that we will let them know when they can come back.
Dana: Is it normal that kids have scheduled sports activities as in Germany? We have sports clubs where the kids are training, for example, artistic cycling and they have scheduled times.
Jonathan: I am not sure but I know that every child has to decide to train the sport that he likes. Sometimes he may like one sport, but the parents don’t allow him to train it.
Dana: How do you manage on one side, learning how to be a successful trainer, and on the other side, actually being a trainer? I think there is still a lot for you to learn about different figures and the rules of this sport, so how do you master it?
Jonathan: I read a book that Anna sent me. I watch different videos and show them to the kids. The kids and I decide together which figure they are going to learn and I talk to them many times to encourage them. I also tell them I will give a prize to the one who makes the figure better after two months. Well, I have to say that I really need to learn about artistic cycling in general.
Dana: That is a good motivation. Do the training sessions work well? How often do you get together with the kids for the training?
Jonathan: The training sessions work well but not as we wish because at this moment we are just using two bikes and 2 unicycles. We start by warming up and then I split them into groups. Each group has 5 minutes, so everyone can participate. I let them practice all the figures that they already learned and then we work on the new figures. We meet 2 times per week but the children are always asking for more days. We practice 2 or 3 hours each day.
Dana: So, it is necessary to have new bikes.
Jonathan: Yeah we really need them. It would help to have enough time for practicing. In December I use to organize a camp for them during the holidays in which they do different activities.
Dana: Is there a kid whom you think is really talented and could participate in world competitions?
Jonathan: There are two but I am not sure if right now they would be ready to participate in world competitions. Whenever we practice again, I will make videos and will show them to you.
Dana: Sure! I am excited to watch them. When I think of your training with the 15 children and more bicycles… I am convinced that there is a lot of potential in the future!
Jonathan: Yeah, I hope maybe one day you’ll visit us and see the interest of our kids in artistic cycling.
Dana: That would be amazing. I would like to ask you for some words to share with our readers of the magazine ICWW presents
Jonathan: I can only thank everyone who is on the journey of building and promoting this sport all over the world. I promise that soon they will start seeing Rwanda artistic cycling athletes in World Competitions representing Africa, showing what they can do.
Dana: Great words, Jonathan! Now last question: What means to you being a Co-project partner and trainer of Rwanda?
Jonathan: It is really interesting for me. When I like what I am doing, means that I am ready to accomplish it. I am working for the success of this sport in Rwanda.
Dana: Thank you very much for this interest and great interview for ICWW presents! Thanks for taking the time for it. I think everybody is excited to read about you and your kids in Rwanda!
Jonathan: Thank you so much. I really appreciate the great work that you’re doing.
Dana: Thanks a lot. Greetings from Germany!