By Victor Kanayo
Kenya are currently the only African nation to have qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after winning the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens 2023 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
With the straight qualification, the Kenyans joined eight other countries in other parts of the world to book an Olympic place.
Others In Qualification Lineup, Remaining Slots
France, New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji, Australia, Uruguay, Ireland and USA are those that had scaled through.
There now remains three more slots to be filled in the Olympics Rugby lineup.
And according to the organisers, the remaining spaces will be decided via the Oceania and Asia qualification tournaments and the Olympic repechage tournament.
Kenya’s Deep Dig For Third Consecutive Olympics Participation
In qualifying for the global sporting fiesta, Kenya overcame pre-tournament favourites South Africa 17-12 in a tense final.
After the crushing disappointment of missing out on the inaugural HSBC SVNS after a last-gasp, relegation play-off defeat to Canada in London in May, the Kenya squad was all smiles in Harare once the magnitude of what they had achieved had sunk in.
After making it to two consecutive Olympic Games in Rio and Tokyo, the Shujaa made short work of their day one opponents – Zambia, Namibia, and Nigeria, to top Pool B and reach the quarter-finals.
The Kenyans were equally clinical in despatching Burkina Faso (26-0) and then hosts Zimbabwe (35-10) as the Shujaa booked their place in the final.
South Africa’s march through the pool phase had been equally impressive.
The Sandile Ngcobo’s team scored 120 points and only conceded 14 in a strong day one display, which yielded wins over Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Madagascar, Rosko Specman announcing his return to the international arena with four tries against the Ivorians.
The Blitzboks as the South African team are fondly known easily accounted for Nigeria in the quarter-finals (27-0) but they were made to work by Uganda for their place in the final before sealing a 26-14 win.
In the final, the Shujaa of Kenya took an early lead 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.
South Africa, Uganda Still In Contention
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 repechage tournament.