What you need to know:
- Amonde has broken bones, quite literally, in service for country.
- In January, 2014, he had surgery in his right hand and recovered to play in that season’s world sevens series for the Japan leg.
Wearing the national jersey in any sport bears huge responsibility. Putting on the captain’s armband is an even heavier load.
That’s why when Shujaa skipper Andrew Amonde broke down at the media mixed zone after the Kenya sevens rugby team’s 7-12 loss to Ireland in a decisive Pool ‘C’ match at the Tokyo Stadium, you could feel his pain.
A patriot who has given his all for country, but disappointed that he didn’t exit the stage on a high.
Shujaa’s loss to Ireland in their final group match threw them out of the Olympics, yesterday evening’s 21-7 victory over Japan in a placement match hardly the consolation the Kenya Commercial Bank RFC player hoped for.
Not even the try he scored against the hosts. Today, Shujaa could finish in ninth or 10th as they take on Ireland to determine who will be best outside the eight quarter-finalists.
“The future for us is to keep the young players we have in the team because for most of us this was our last one.
“We have four young players in the system and it’s all about bringing them to the to the top level,” Amonde touched on the team’s transition.
At this point, I asked the 38-year-old captain: “Is this the last time we are seeing Andrew Amonde in the Kenyan jersey?”
“From the beginning this was going to be my last tournament… it was very hard to come here and say that this was my last tournament playing for Kenya Sevens,” he responded.
Born on Christmas Day in 1983, Amonde could no longer hold back the tears, breaking down.
“It’s a tough one that I’m not going to play in the Main Cup, because that’s (Main Cup knockout stage) what I was planning to get to…”
A legend, tormented by a shattered dream.
I was moved by the captain’s pain, and, along with colleagues Alex Isaboke (Capital FM) and Bismarck Mutahi (The Standard Group), we dropped our journalist tags, put on the patriotic hats and paid tribute to a great captain.
“You’ve had a great career and you have represented your country very well, and everybody is proud of you, captain, and we really want to thank you for what you have done for the country,” was our message to the skipper as he made his way to the tunnel, restraining himself from punching the barriers in rage.
His best moments as a Kenya Sevens player since his debut in 2006?
“Just being with these boys has been the best thing for me. Coming out to represent my country, but unfortunately today we didn’t get it right. We will just build from there and continue.”
Amonde has broken bones, quite literally, in service for country.
In January, 2014, he had surgery in his right hand and recovered to play in that season’s world sevens series for the Japan leg.
That was after he had broken his jaw and messed up his dental formula in 2008, and was admitted in hospital for four days.
In 2019, he received a Head of State Commendation for his service to the nation, and award that should surely be graduated for all he had done for a nation whose flag he held at last Friday’s opening ceremony for these Games.
Educated in communications, the skipper has already hinted at a career as a strength and conditioning expert post-sevens rugby.
With a World Rugby Level I coaching diploma in strength and conditioning, and chasing a Level II certification this year, Amonde is certainly a huge asset for the Kenya Rugby Union, if they care to reward his impeccable service for country.
Collins Injera, Kenya’s try-scoring machine and another veteran in the team, was equally deflated yesterday.
“We wanted to get into the next round but we couldn’t make it…” he said.
“We knew it was going to be tough.”
Injera, 35, Kenya’s top try scorer in the sevens game, was non-committal about his future in the game: “For now I just wanna finish the Olympics. About my future, I will say that when the time comes.”
For coach Innocent Simiyu, it’s back to the drawing board and self-reflection.
“It was a tough pool but most of the undoing was with us. We didn’t execute well in terms of certain aspects of the game, for example if you look at the kick-off reception, our execution in terms of unforced errors really let us down.
“But if you put it in context, teams have been preparing for the last four years and we started our preparations at the end of the year because of the Covid-19 situation. We must start preparing now for the (2022) Commonwealth Games.”