Since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games started on July 23, Kenya has posted underwhelming results, especially in team sports. Kenyan rugby and volleyball teams have struggled in matches against their opponents in Tokyo, exposing the gulf in class.
Men’s national sevens rugby team, Shujaa, suffered an early exit at the competition following losses to South Africa, Ireland and the United States of America in Group ‘C’ matches played at the Tokyo Stadium.
After failing to reach the quarter-final stage, the team recovered to beat Ireland in a classification match to finish ninth overall. Although this is an improvement from the 12th-place finish Kenya registered at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, the team had the potential to do much better in Tokyo.
The women’s sevens rugby team, Kenya Lionesses, also performed poorly, losing its Pool ‘A’ matches to Russia, Great Britain and New Zealand. The team is out of the running for medals, and plays Canada today in a classification match.
Competitive friendly matches
The going also got tough for the women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, despite heavy investment in its technical bench by way of coaches seconded to the country from Brazil. The team failed to win a single set against European champions Serbia, hosts Japan and South Korea in Group ‘A’.
However, it is encouraging that the team showed improvement with each game it played at the Olympics, particularly against highly-ranked Serbia. Malkia Strikers are yet to play against Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
These results suggest that Kenya has a long way to go before it can match the top teams in the world in rugby and volleyball. The Kenyan teams may rank high in Africa but they can’t compete effectively with the best in the world. Changing this requires concerted efforts from local sports administrators, coaches and the players themselves.
Other than investing in training facilities and methods, we must give the teams more exposure through competitive friendly matches. After qualifying for global championships, we must change how we prepare teams for the competitions. – nation.co.ke