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Innocent Simiyu: We are ready for Olympics scrum down

RUGBY By Washington Onyango | May 17th 2021
Shujaa's Nelson Oyoo tackles Angelo Davids of South Africa during Rugby Africa Solidarity Camp in South Africa. [Courtesy]

Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu is confident Shujaa will be ready for the Tokyo Olympics when the global games begin on July 23.

Speaking after guiding the national rugby Sevens team to a second-place finish at the two-week Rugby Africa Solidarity Camp mini-friendly tournaments in South Africa, Simiyu is optimistic the team would have worked out all their errors and team chemistry before heading to Tokyo.

“We are happy with the performance of the team so far in the last three pre-Olympic invitational tournaments. Getting match fitness has been our key agenda especially after a long layoff due to Covid-19 pandemic,” said Simiyu.

“We need to tick all the vital boxes; breakdown, tackle completion and kick off receipt. We have been having a challenge with these areas and we aim at improving on them."

Shujaa finished second at the Rugby Africa Solidarity Sevens second leg tournament that ended on Sunday at Markötter Stadium, Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Shujaa, who were using the tournament as part of their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games, lost 31-5 to South Africa 1 in the final of the two-day event.

This was Kenya’s fourth consecutive loss against the Blitzboks in the tournament. 

The coach said their focus turns to their last pre-Olympic tournament in USA next month.

Shujaa's Billy Odhiambo (far right) in action during Rugby Africa Solidarity Camp in South Africa. [Courtesy]

With the Tokyo Olympic Games quickly approaching, Quest for Gold Sevens has confirmed international men’s and women’s teams to compete in an exhibition tournament at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles from June 25-26.

Kenya will start preparations earlier next month ahead of the Quest for Gold 7s. USA, Argentina, Samoa and Korea have confirmed participation in the event.

“For us, we need to go back home and continue with Olympic Games journey and hopefully by the time we get to Los Angeles, we will be able to tick more boxes and be in a position where we can perform well at the Olympic games,” he added.

“With the government support, we need to keep working hard and improving our game.”

KCB winger Jacob Ojee is the only player doubtful for the US tournament after he picked up a left leg injury in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the national women’s Sevens team, Kenya Lionesses, have also confirmed participation in the US pre-Olympic tourney.

With a majority of the participating teams being regulars on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the exhibition sets a perfect stage for pre-Olympic trials ahead of the Tokyo Games.

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