Kenya’s sevens rugby team now has three weeks to recover from their tour of USA and Canada before clocking the miles again for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
And coach Innocent Simiyu has set a medal at the April 4-15 games as one of his season’s target, confident his charges will reach the podium.
The team arrived back home on Tuesday night to a muted reception with a few government and Kenya Rugby Union officials on hand to receive them at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The team will be hosted to a “congratulatory luncheon” on Thursday by Isuzu East Africa, the official transport partners of Kenya Rugby Union — courtesy of Rita Kavashe, the managing director of Isuzu East Africa — following their outstanding performance at USA Sevens in Last Vegas and Vancouver Sevens in Canada where they reached the quarter-finals and final, respectively.
The Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports and Heritage, Harun Komen, was also on hand to receive the team at the airport after the tour where they bagged 29 points.
A troupe of traditional dancers sang and danced for an hour before the team walked through the international arrivals gates at 10:50pm.
With the sighting of the team the dancing reached crescendo with players joining in the act.
But after travelling for 16 hours and having to deal with lost luggage that saw them delay at the arrivals area for close to two hours, the players and technical bench were understandably too tired to jig for long.
“I’m proud of how they played with pride and courage,” said coach Innocent Simiyu.
“A big up to the boys for the show of determination."
“We need to hit our performance targets and once we do, then we stand a chance to win a medal (at the Commonwealth Games). It is a season’s goal to medal at the Commonwealth Games,” he observed, heaping praise on the youngsters in the team.
“It’s quite exciting to see young players shine. They will grow into brilliant players in future and ours is to guide them. We thank all the fans who stayed up all night to support us.”
Team captain Oscar Ouma was equally upbeat.
“Next is recovery, then pick up training for three weeks before we travel again. It’s a good thing to see competition for slots (to the Commonwealth Games). Everyone can’t be selected, but everyone is good and this is a headache for the coaches.”