Rugby: Lionesses hunt down, bag 2020 Olympic Games slot

By Clement Wekulo: Sunday, October 13th 2019 at 19:57 GMT +3 | Rugby
New Zealand's Theresa Fitzpatrick (R) leaps over Kenya's defenders to score a try in their women's rugby sevens match at the Robina Stadium at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on April 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO

The Kenya national women’s rugby Sevens team, Lionesses, became the eighth team to book a slot at the 2020 Olympic Games after reaching the final at the Africa Sevens-cum-Olympic qualifiers in Tunisia on Sunday. 

South Africa’s qualification for the final at the continental showpiece meant that Lionesses will be Africa’s flag-bearers in Tokyo, Japan  next year since the South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee decided not to send their team to the summer games even if they won the regional qualifiers. 

Enroute to the final, Lionesses, who are coached by Felix Oloo, conceded only one try in a 26-5 win over Zimbabwe in the quarter-finals before beating hosts Tunisia 19-0 in the semi-finals.

In Saturday’s preliminaries, the East Africans registered identical 36-0 wins over Ghana and Senegal before claiming another impressive 49-0 win over Botswana. 

Having reached the title decider in the Africa Women’s Sevens, both Kenya and South Africa also booked slots at the 2020 Hong Kong Sevens where teams will battle for core status in the Women’s World Sevens Series.  Kenya is set to make a second appearance at the Olympics after competing in Brazil in 2016 when Sevens rugby was introduced at the quadrennial event.

Japan are assured of featuring at the Olympic Games by virtue of being hosts while the quartet of New Zealand, USA, Canada and Australia qualified after finishing in the top four in the 2018-19 Women’s World Sevens Series.

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[Clement Wekulo]

Brazil and Great Britain emerged victorious in South America and Europe respectively, hence qualifying for the Olympics.

Two African sides will receive a second chance to qualify for the Olympic Games by competing against teams from other regions in a repechage tournament in June next year.

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