Kenya earned their place at the Paris 2024 Olympics by winning the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens 2023 at the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.
A 17-12 win over pre-tournament favourites, South Africa, enabled Kenya to become the ninth men’s team to confirm its participation in next year’s Games.
They will now join France, New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji, Australia, Uruguay, Ireland and the United States as confirmed Olympic Rugby attendees.
The final three places will be decided via the Oceania and Asia qualification tournaments and the Olympic tournament.
Kenya’s coach, Kevin Wambua, told World Rugby he was always confident his team could make it to a third Olympic Games after participating at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 editions.
Day one victories over Zambia, Namibia, and Nigeria enabled Kenya to top Pool B and reach the quarter-finals, where they beat Burkina Faso 26-0.
A 35-10 semi-final win over the hosts sent them through to meet a South African team that had shown ominous form by scoring 120 points and only conceding 14 en route to the final.
Helped by four tries from former Spring
bok winger, Rosko Specman, on his return to the international arena, South Africa defeated their opening opponents Cote d’Ivoire and soon added further victories over Tunisia and Madagascar.
The Blitzboks easily accounted for Nigeria in the quarter-finals, winning 27-0, but they were made to work by Uganda for their place in the final before sealing a 26-14 win.
Kenya took an early lead in the final through Patrick Odongo but trailed 12-7 at the break after conceding tries from Selvyn Davids and Christie Grobbelaar.
Odongo scored again in the second half to level the scores before John Okoth scored the try that sent Kenya to the Olympics.
It was a huge fillip for them following the disappointment of missing out on SVNS qualification after being beaten by Canada in the final of the World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 play-off at Twickenham in May.
For South Africa and Uganda, who finished third after a 24-12 win over Zimbabwe in the bronze medal match, the dream of competing at the Olympics is not over as both have qualified for the Olympic tournament. —Insidethegames.com